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Obama Has a Warning for 2020 Progressives

Be less rigid, Democratic candidates are told
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2019 8:33 AM CDT
Barack Obama, right, greets German Green Party member Katharina Schulze during a town hall Saturday in Berlin.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
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(Newser) – Former President Obama is staying so far away from the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination that he delivered a new message to the candidates from Europe: Don't destroy each other during this process. "One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States, maybe it's true here as well," he said, per the Guardian, "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 delivered the message at an Obama Foundation event Saturday in Berlin.

Democrats aren't even close to the debates and primaries yet, but candidates and potential candidates already are taking heat over their records said to show they aren't progressive enough: Joe Biden on racial and women's issues, Beto O'Rourke on environmental and immigration issues, and Kamala Harris on her track record as a prosecutor. To illustrate the need for progressives to be flexible, Slate reports, Obama told the crowd about his compromises to win approval of the Affordable Care Act and the Paris Climate Agreement, though neither was all that he wanted. "The way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don't agree with you," Obama said, "and that by definition means you’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want." (Obama offered advice for young leaders in Europe, too.)

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