"Defund the police" is a "snappy" slogan—but not an effective one for campaigners seeking to reach a wider audience, Barack Obama says. The former president told Snapchat political show Good Luck America Wednesday that the slogan is polarizing and won't help advocates get the reforms they want, Politico reports. "If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan, like ‘defund the police,'" he said. "But, you know, you lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done."
The slogan has been used by campaigners urging cities to shift some police funding to social services, the Hill notes, but it has been attacked by Republicans and conflated with calls to abolish police departments. President-elect Joe Biden has said he is against defunding the police and wants to boost police funding. Some Democrats, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn, argue that the slogan cost Democratic candidates votes in last month's election. "The key is deciding, do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?" Obama said Wednesday. "And if you want to get something done in a democracy, in a country as big and diverse as ours, then you’ve got to be able to meet people where they are." (Read more Barack Obama stories.)