President Obama spoke to a group of students about leadership in Berlin, Germany yesterday. (His full remarks can be heard in the video below.)
His remarks indicated that he is concerned about how quickly the party has moved to the left on such issues as reparations, medicare-for-all and climate change.
He also said, “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be.’”
Obama told the students that compromise was essential in any negotiation.
So I think whether you are speaking as a citizen or as a political leader or as an organizer. You have to recognize that the way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don’t agree with you, and that by definition means you’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want.
You can’t set up a system in which you don’t compromise on anything, but you also can’t operate in a system where you compromise on everything.
He continued, “And then we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad,’ where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues. And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens.”
As the field of candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination grows, they have begun to attack each other as is natural and expected.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), has come under fire following a scathing op-ed by law professor Lara Bazelon. She wrote that Harris previously “fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”
And this comment may also be Obama’s
subtle very subtle way of finally showing support for his former vice president.
Over the last few days, Joe Biden has come under sudden attack from his opponents for his life-long habit of touching women without their permission.
Obama has remained relatively neutral except for expressing his strong admiration for candidate Beto O’Rourke in December. Vanity Fair reported that “Obamaworld insiders describe the former vice president as upset” over it.
For the last two years, Biden has maintained the top position in every poll that’s been taken. They may be trying to knock him off his perch.
The former President’s message was clear. The party’s embrace of what were considered “radical” ideas only recently will hurt them. And their attacks on each other will only come back to haunt them in a general election.
He offered some good advice. Let’s hope they’re not paying attention.