Popular former President Barack Obama openly expressed his concerns on Saturday about progressives hurting liberal causes by shooting at their own Democratic allies.
At a town hall event in Germany, Obama said the overall progressive movement weakens when liberals set up purity tests and tear down Democrats who may not align with them on 100 percent of the issues.
“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,” Obama said, according to The Hill.
“When that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens,” he added.
Obama continued, “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.”
The former president pointed to the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health care coverage to millions of Americans, as evidence that his approach to politics has had success, even if he did have to make concessions to get it done.
“You can’t set up a system in which you don’t compromise on anything,” he said. “But you also can’t operate in a system where you compromise on everything.”
Progressives should heed Obama’s advice ahead of 2020
Liberals purists and media outlets would be smart to heed Barack Obama’s advice heading into 2020.
Already, we’ve seen far too many progressives take their eye off the ball and attack potential or declared Democratic presidential candidates for positions that may not fully pass their purity test.
This same approach hurt Democrats in 2016 when many disappointed supporters of Bernie Sanders continued to attack Hillary Clinton long after she secured the nomination, claiming there was no difference between her and Donald Trump.
After two years of this president, progressives should have learned their lesson: When you wage war on your Democratic allies for *only* agreeing with you 80 to 90 percent of the time, you do nothing to advance your causes, and you only help people like Donald Trump consolidate their power.
Healthy debate is one thing, but a circular firing squad isn’t helping the progressive movement.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.