At a town hall event in Berlin on Saturday, former President Barack Obama expressed concerns about the far-left wing of the Democratic Party, criticizing them for being too quick to throw their own allies overboard for failing to reach some imagined purity status. The speech, which comes at a time when Obama’s former vice president is under fire for what the New York Times called “tactile politicking,” could indicate that #44 regrets the socialist activism that has now infected the party he once lead.
“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States —maybe it’s true here as well — is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,’ 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,” he said.
“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,” he continued.
This kind of stance would probably not impress the Barack Obama who started out in politics under the tutelage of people like Saul Alinsky, but he told the audience that his time in Washington had slowly changed how he viewed the political process.
At the same time, he said that simply compromising the world away wasn’t an option either.
“You should take some time to think in your own mind and continually refine and reflect – ‘What are my core principles?’” he said. “Because the danger is if you don’t know what your principles are, that’s when you compromise your principles away. 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.”
This advice will likely ring hollow with today’s Democratic Party, which has no interest whatsoever in finding areas of compromise. Indeed, the only thing worse than a Republican in their eyes is a Democrat who dares embrace a policy that is anything less than the most extreme proposal on the table. Zealots like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have taken the activism approach to Washington politics – all progress, all the time. Well, “progress” in any case. This has led much of the 2020 presidential field to trip over each other in a lurch to the left. What none of them seem to realize is that once the primaries are over, they will have to sell that leftism to the general electorate. We may wind up shocked, but we don’t think it’s going to go over all that well.