Obama alludes to Nazi Germany in warning about being complacent in American politics

Former President Barack Obama has a message to voters in the U.S. -- don’t become complacent, but do stay engaged in the process.

Obama, speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago this week, used an example from before World War II to demonstrate why voters need to be active and not let politics, or democracy, take a back seat or be forgotten, CNN reported.

Obama said at about 9:30 in the video clip, "I do think because we've been so wealthy and so successful that we get complacent and assume that things continue the way they have been, just automatically, and they don't. You have to tend to this garden of democracy; otherwise, things can fall apart fairly quickly."

In the statement, he claims it was complacency in Vienna that led to chaos in the early to mid-20th century, alluding to the rise of Nazi Germany, CNN reported.

“Now, presume there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or ‘30s that looked pretty sophisticated and seemed as if it, filled with the music and art and literature and science that was emerging, would continue into perpetuity -- and then 60 million people died. An entire world was plunged into chaos,” Obama said.

He advised those in attendance, “So you got to pay attention and vote.”

He also pointed out how America has responded to changing political times, CNN reported.

“FDR is one of my political heroes. In my mind, the second-greatest president after Lincoln. ... But he interned a bunch of loyal Japanese Americans during World War II. That was a threat to our institutions.” Obama went on to say, “There have been periods in our history where censorship was considered OK. We had the McCarthy era. We had a president who had to resign prior to impeachment because he was undermining rule of law. At every juncture, we have had to wrestle with big problems.”

He said the country needs to defend “our best selves and those timeless values that should transcend party.”

Obama said the country is at a point where economic and cultural disruption is leading people to look for security and simple answers to complex situations, and that many are seeking out information that cements the belief that one person’s views are superior to another person’s.

Click here to watch and listen to all of Obama's comments.