In an interview with Peter Hamby, who hosts a Snapchat political show called “Good Luck America,” Obama said activists who use polarizing slogans could jeopardize their goals of passing actual criminal justice and police reform.
“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,” Obama explained, according to Axios. “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’s comments echo similar criticisms made by other Democrats frustrated with the party’s losses.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, R-S.C., for example, said he believes radical policies like ‘Defund the Police’ hurt Democratic candidates running in swing states.
“That’s why I spoke out against it a long time ago,” Clyburn said. “I’ve always said that these headlines can kill a political effort. We are all about making headway, and I just hope that going forward we will think about each one of these Congressional districts and let people represent their districts.”
Several leftist members of “The Squad” in the House of Representatives, however, hit back at Obama and insisted that ‘Defund the Police’ is “not just a slogan.”
With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence.
It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police. https://t.co/Wsxp1Y1bBi
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) December 2, 2020
We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety. https://t.co/Vu6inw4ms7
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 2, 2020
The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific. Lives are at stake daily so I’m out of patience with critiques of the language of activists.
Whatever a grieving family says is their truth.
And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) December 2, 2020
What if activists aren’t PR firms for politicians & their demands are bc police budgets are exploding, community resources are shrinking to bankroll it, & ppl brought this up for ages but it wasn’t until they said “defund” that comfortable people started paying attn to brutality
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 2, 2020