Former President Barack Obama has tried to be a unifier for the Democratic Socialists and the moderates within the Democratic Party, even if it means being contradictory to keep both sides happy.
In an interview with Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” to promote his book “Promised Land,” Obama mentioned how terminology creates division within the party.
“Socialism is still a loaded term for a lot of folks. Once again instead of talking labels and ideology, we should focus on talking about getting certain things done,” Obama said.
“The Democratic National Convention I thought was really successful considering the pandemic, but you know, the fact that an AOC only got 3 minutes or 5 minutes when she speaks to a broad section of young people who are interested in what she has to say, even if they don’t agree with everything she says,” he continued.
He even addressed the rise in awareness for the need for criminal justice reform and how it is being presented to the average American.
“I guess you can use a snappy slogan like “Defund the Police,” but you know you lost the big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely you’ll get the changes you want done. But if you instead say ‘Let’s reform the police department so that everybody’s being treated fairly’ … suddenly a whole bunch of folks who might not otherwise listen to you are listening to you.”
While Obama is correct that politicians and activists need a nuanced approach to complex issues like criminal justice reform, some Democrats disagreed with him.
A close ally of Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, said that defunding the police is a “policy demand.”
“We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety,” Omar tweeted in response to Obama’s comments.
We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety. https://t.co/Vu6inw4ms7
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 2, 2020
Obama’s attempts to unify the party may fall on deaf ears of some of the newer, more progressive leaders.
By managing to anger Omar in the same interview that he praises Ocasio-Cortez certainly looks like he’s trying to fix a broken lamp with scotch tape.
Defund the police? Defund, my butt. I’m a proud West Virginia Democrat. We are the party of working men and women. We want to protect Americans’ jobs & healthcare. We do not have some crazy socialist agenda, and we do not believe in defunding the police. https://t.co/EIFHX5OQ37
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) November 11, 2020
Although there are plenty of policy points where all Democrats agree, expecting unity between people like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and the “Squad” could be wishful thinking.
The vast diversity of ideas within the Democratic Party could soon be the reason for its downfall in the future.
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