Former President Barack Obama is facing criticism from far-left progressives after stating in a Wednesday interview that the “defund the police” rhetoric is unhelpful to what Democrats want to accomplish.
““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,'” Obama told Peter Hamby, host of Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.”
“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,” he continued.
The newest episode of the app’s original political show aired Wednesday morning, featuring the former president.
He has received fierce pushback from the more radical members of the Democrat party, including the infamous “squad”.
Represenatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Representative-elect Cori Bush (D-MO) all took to Twitter to double down on the “defund the police” rhetoric.
“It’s not a slogan,” wrote Bush. “It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police.”
Obama isn’t the only one to question the effectiveness of the “defund the police” language. Following the election – in which Democrats lost nine House seats – more moderate Democrats have blamed the loss on the “defund the police” efforts of the more progressive members of the party.
Democrat Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said that the “defund the police” rhetoric “led to Democratic losses in the last year.”
And Democrat House Representative Jim Clyburn told CNN that the progressive “sloganeering” is damaging to the policies they’re trying to enact: “We can’t pick up these things just because it makes a good headline, it sometimes destroys headway.”
In the interview, Obama encouraged progressives to focus on policy rather than getting caught up in rhetoric wars that cause confusion and inspire fear. For instance, he said that progressives should avoid the word “socialism” since it remains “a loaded term for a lot of folks.”
“So 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 asked. “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. And play a game of addition and not subtraction.”