Former President Barack Obama said on Saturday he worries about the far-left, progressive wing of the Democratic party being unwilling to compromise and creating a “circular firing squad” against allies over policy and issue differences.
“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 is straying from purity on the issues,” Obama said a town hall in Berlin, Germany, hosted by the Obama Foundation.
The Democratic former president argued that this party infighting usually leads to “the overall effort and movement weaken(ing).”
“You have to recognize that the way we’ve structured 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,” Obama said.
He spoke of the importance of compromise and navigating what you believe in, saying he wanted more from the multi-national Paris climate accord and the Affordable Care Act in the US, but accepted what could be passed and agreed upon at the time.
“You can’t set up a system in which you don’t compromise on anything, but you also can’t operate in a system where you compromise on everything,” Obama said.
Democrats have been divided over the Green New Deal, healthcare and worker’s wages, among other issues.
After leaving office, Obama has focused on his nonprofit that encourages civil engagement.
In kicking off the town hall, Obama said he was not there to support any European political party and cracked a joke about himself and the former first lady Michelle Obama.
“I’ve held my last political office,” Obama said. “Michelle would leave me if I ever ran for office again.”