We Were Eight Years in Power
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Contributed by Andrea Barraza

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Chapter 8
Summary

This is the last chapter of the book. The chapter starts as Coates reiterates Obama saying that Donald Trump couldn’t win the presidency when he first spoke about him (Coates 375). The author also indicates that Obama never believed that Trump would one time become president of the United States; it was completely impossible for Obama to believe that this would happen. Trump’s presidential bid, in 2016, came as a shock to Obama and many other people who were on his team. Obama’s team had a feeling within them that white people would be out to object Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency. Coates discusses that both Trump and Obama happened to have a clear understanding of America and both knew very well what the country was capable of, it is only that Obama never believed it could go back to where it had managed to come from.

The author also discussed how the final days of the Obama’s administration looked like. Obama and Michelle hosted a farewell party in Washington after opinion polls showed that Hillary Clinton had attained a high level of support for her presidential bid against Trump, especially from Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Obamas were, thus, positive that Hillary had a higher chance of clinching the presidency. Coates indicates that, due to the high expectations, this moment seemed to “buoy Obama” (392). Obama felt that he was leaving America in safer hands. However, the author suggests that the party marked a high level of uncertainty for the future of America.

Analysis

The chapter describes the “vision of hope” that Obama had for the prosperity of America during his last days in office as he supported Hillary’s presidential bid. The chapter also shows how unpredictable America turned out to be as Obama completed his tenure in office. Obama himself, with all his political experience, could not foresee Trump becoming president. At the height of the 2016 presidential campaigns, Trump’s team was filled with a high rate of racist semantics to the point that Obama and his inner circle could not believe that many people would choose to take him seriously (Coates 381). However, they happened to be wrong, going by the outcomes of the elections. The author suggests that this showed many white Americans, who endorsed Trump’s presidential bid, happened to continue embracing the belittling of black people.

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