Former President Barack Obama said on Saturday that he is worried that progressives are creating a “circular firing squad” as prospective Democratic presidential candidates race to the left on a number of hot topic issues ahead of the 2020 election.
“The way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don’t agree with you,” he said at an Obama Foundation town hall event in Berlin, according to The New York Post. “And that by definition means you’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want.”
“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives … 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,” he said.
Obama’s remarks come as freshman House Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have pushed once-fringe positions on Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal and reparations for slavery. In turn, 2020 presidential hopefuls have also taken some of those positions.
In that climate, candidates have come under criticism for their past stances from activists. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was forced this week to address remarks he made in 2015 when he said that “all lives matter” — which some activists say is a counterslogan to the “black lives matter” slogan
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., meanwhile has been hit by controversy over her past as a prosecutor. A scathing op-ed published in January in The New York Times, written by law professor Lara Bazelon, has kickstarted renewed scrutiny.
Bazelon says 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.”
Bazelon further suggested that Harris should “apologize to the wrongfully convicted people she has fought to keep in prison and to do what she can to make sure they get justice” or otherwise make clear she has “radically broken from her past.”
Former vice president under Obama, Joe Biden, meanwhile has faced criticism for inappropriate past physical contact with women, as well a a 1993 speech on crime in which he warned of “predators on our streets”
“They are beyond the pale many of those people, beyond the pale,” Biden continued. “And it’s a sad commentary on society. We have no choice but to take them out of society.”
The latter was reminiscent of heat 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took from activists for her description of some gang members as “superpredators” in 1996.
Obama himself may not escape criticism in the election cycle. His signature health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act, is quickly being eclipsed by calls from Democrats for single-payer and Medicare-for-all plans. Meanwhile, a number of Democrats have said they are open to reparations for black Americans for slavery — something that Obama opposed when he was in office.
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.