Former US president Barack Obama has been scolded, most notably from some of his own fellow Democrats, for commenting that “snappy” slogans like the progressive rallying cry to “defund the police” only alienate potential voters.
“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 in an interview on Snapchat show ‘Good Luck America’ set to be broadcast on Wednesday, according to Axios.
The Democrat advocated a supposedly more pragmatic approach, saying, “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?”
The call to “defund the police” was popularized during the wave of anti-racism protests and riots, which swept the US following the killing of African American man George Floyd during arrest by Minneapolis Police. Since then, it has been used by activist groups like Black Lives Matter and even some politicians.
It has been widely argued that the simplicity of the phrase “defund the police” might lead Americans to believe it’s a push to disband law enforcement altogether. While in actuality, its proponents say it is a call for reallocation of some state funds towards social services like housing and mental health-care.
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Progressive Democrats immediately broke ranks with the ex-president, berating him for making light of the situation and schooling him on the difference between ‘slogans’ and ‘policy.’
“It’s not a slogan but a policy demand,” tweeted Minnesota Congresswoman and ‘Squad’ member Ilhan Omar.
Missouri’s Congresswoman-elect Cori Bush also responded to Obama, saying that while she is concerned with losing people electorally, “We’re losing our loved ones to police violence” and that ‘Defund the Police’ is “a mandate for keeping our people alive.”
“There’s been a whole lot of talk about which phrases help or hurt electoral campaigns. I’ve seen VERY little talk about which strategies actually solve the crisis at the center,” wrote Jamaal Bowman, incoming congressman for New York’s 16th District.
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
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
There’s been a whole lot of talk about which phrases help or hurt electoral campaigns.
I’ve seen VERY little talk about which strategies actually solve the crisis at the center.
We’re here to solve things right? Talking about talking isn’t doing that.
— Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) December 2, 2020
The backlash to Obama’s words did not remain inside the beltway, and his own famous “snappy” campaign slogan from 2008 ‘Yes We Can’ started trending on Twitter, as commenters mocked him for hypocrisy.
Critics derided Obama for relying on “empty” rhetoric, reminding readers that during his own eight years in the White House Democrats lost both the House and the Senate to Republicans. “Snappy slogans like “Yes we can,” of course, are awesome because they are vague and promise nothing,” tweeted one person.
Snappy slogans like “Yes we can,” of course, are awesome because they are vague and promise nothing. “Defund the Police” implies specific policies that politicians will then be accountable for.
— I know he can get the job, but can he DO the job? (@edillades) December 2, 2020
Folks, you only win people with empty slogans like “yes we can”.
— |Guri⟩ (@Gurjot__Mann) December 2, 2020
“Yes, we can” literally lost thousands of seats in 8 years.
Those who ran on Defund the police didn’t lose and only those who let their opponents control the narrative of what DTP means lost.
— Enver Morales (@morenverca) December 2, 2020
Obama literally won the presidency on the slogans “yes we can” and “change”. The latter of which is ONE word.
The only difference is that “Defund the police” is a slogan with actual policies behind it. Policies that are made clear in the slogan itself
— Vonté (@NepswirlDaBeard) December 2, 2020
Some took a jibe at Obama’s slogan by combining it with the current rallying cry tweeting “Yes We Can defund the police.”
oh sorry, Yes We Can defund the police https://t.co/m0qqdLIoWz
— riss 🌻 (@risskybitch) December 2, 2020
While the backlash was fierce, some fully agreed with Obama, saying that “far-left” slogans like “defund the police” do indeed drive voters away.
The far-left would rather throw temper tantrums over President Obama calling out their dumb slogans than admit the consequences of their actions-and how it played right into the @GOP‘s hands.
“Yes we can” brought people together.
“Defund the Police” drives them away.
— Samantha (@agentcurieuse) December 2, 2020
Obama is RIGHT and It’s really amazing and baffling that people think of “Yes We Can” and “Change” in the same light as “Defund the Police.” It’s really really worrying that the need to trend on Twitter and social media has clouded every ounce of pragmatism in today’s “activism.” https://t.co/T89Ly7XsUc
— Max.Adjei (@max_adjei1) December 2, 2020
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