Former President Barack Obama said this week that progressive slogans like “defund the police” are hurting Democrats in elections, as well as the cause for reforming the criminal justice system itself.
During an interview with “Good Luck America” on Snapchat released Wednesday, Obama said phrases and labels like “defund the police” and “socialism” push away large audiences of moderate voters.
“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. 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,” Obama said.
The 44th president’s comments come amid Democrat losses during the 2020 election, as Republicans won all 27 House seats dubbed “toss-ups,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Obama’s stance on reeling in the “defund the police” slogan resulted in backlash from a number of progressive politicians.
“We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted in response to Obama’s take on the slogan.
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
In another response, Missouri Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush tweeted, “With all due respect, Mr. President – lets’ talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence.”
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
During the interview, Obama never said he was against the action of defunding the police, however. He recommended adjusting the messaging to reach a larger audience.
“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?” he stated.
Obama also touched on the term “socialism” saying it’s “still a loaded term for a lot of folks.”
“Once again, instead of talking labels and ideology, we should focus on talking about getting certain things done.”