Former President Barack Obama made his first public remarks since leaving office, speaking to young people at the University of Chicago.

Obama encouraged young people to get involved, not to become "cynical" and give up on the political process. 

He said those negative attitudes toward politics are having a "pernicious" effect, leading to "some of the lowest voting rates of any advanced democracy."

"[That] translates into a further gap between who's governing us and what we believe," he said, not mentioning President Trump specifically. 

He emphasized that only young people can solve that problem, saying he wants to focus on "knocking down barriers" which prevent civic engagement. 

"If that happens, I think we're gonna be just fine," said Obama. 

The 44th president also called out "changes in the media," which he argued are preventing Americans from working together to find common ground and solve problems. 

"Everybody's listening to people who already agree with them, further and further reinforcing their own realities to the neglect of a common reality," he said.

He looked back on his 2004 comment in which he said there aren't red or blue states, "only the United States." 

Obama said that was an "aspirational" statement, but one that he still believes in, explaining that people tend to have a lot more in common when they speak to each other one-on-one.

In an interview last week, his longtime adviser Valerie Jarrett said that Obama was looking forward to getting involved again.

Jarrett said Obama was eager to get back to his community organizer roots and to focus on helping the Democratic Party identify future leaders.

Watch the remarks above.


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