In the opinion of Barack Obama, the average voter does not seek a system change. To beat Donald Trump, “crazy stuff” was not the answer, he opined in front of Washington Democratic donors on Friday. So far Obama had largely avoided commenting publicly on his party’s race. With the current direction, certain Democrats have taken, however, he seems inclined to remind his party what it will take to regain control of the executive.
In his address, Obama urged candidates for the Democrats’ presidential nomination not to turn to the hard left, as it was alienating many voters, particularly moderates, who could otherwise consider the Democrats to be a viable option in 2020.
While his degree of decorum stopped him from mentioning any names, it can be seen as a call towards Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are both running on an almost quasi European-socialist program.
Both are in favor of a significant structural change, with Sanders not being reluctant of referring to his vision as a “revolution”. The moderate wing of the Democrats has been warning for months that a left-leaning candidate would deter moderate Republicans and independent voters. Exactly those voters, that the Democrats desperately need to beat President Trump. Hard-left votes alone will simply not suffice.
Obama expressed similar concerns. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” Obama said. “They just don’t want to see crazy stuff.”
Between the progressive Democratic Party and the moderate center, which includes Obama’s former Vice President Joe Biden, the ideological gap has widened exponentially in recent months.
The differences are particularly obvious when it comes to immigration and health care. Sanders and Warren, on the one hand, seek to introduce, Medicare for all, an idea that simply is not supported by the majority of Americans, due to its socialist implications. On immigration, Warren has proposed to decriminalize illegal border crossing, which plays right into the hands of Trump, who has been campaigning by calling out “crazy Democrats”, who were inviting crime with “open borders”.
One the other hand, moderate Biden has repeatedly defended the health care system implemented by Obama as well as his record on deportation. Contrary to public belief, Obama’s rate of deportations puts Trump’s to shame.
While one can certainly disagree with Obama and his track record on several issues (e.g. foreign policy), the analysis of his party’s state of affairs is impeccable.
In Obama’s opinion, the hard left is attempting to appease and attract the wrong group. “Even if we go to the limit and are courageous in our vision, we must be firmly rooted in the reality and the fact that voters, including Democratic voters and certainly believable independents or even moderate Republicans, are not driven by the same views that are mirrored on certain, you know, left-aligned Twitter feeds,” Obama concluded.
Besides calling out “crazy” policies and an ill-advised approach towards the important votes, Obama also attempted to dispel concerns of fellow party members about the dense field of Democratic candidates. Some Democrats had raised concerns that the race could be unnecessarily prolonged due to the number of candidates. Those concerned were unjustified according to Obama. He was the best example, that even a field with “serious, capable people” would not hinder the right candidate to prevail and to subsequently win a general election.
Obama’s words are no coincidence at this point. Biden has lost momentum and Warren has emerged as the current favorite. Warren, however, due to her aforementioned stances, will not be able to win a general election, as no independent, moderate nor Trump alienated Republicans will vote for her.
Obama, to this day the most popular Democratic President of modern times, has always chosen his post-government appearances meticulously. His appearance now might only be the start of a subtle campaign in favor of his party’s sanity and future success, with the Iowa caucuses as the first reality check on the horizon.