In a speech this week in Germany, former President Barack Obama shared his concern that some fellow Democrats back home in the U.S. spend too much of their time criticizing each other.
“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States — maybe it’s true here as well — is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,’ and then we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad’ where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues,” he said. “And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens.”
Though he encouraged public servants to “recognize that the way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don’t always agree with you,” Obama stressed the importance of testing and staying true to core principles.
“Because the danger is if you don’t know what your principles are, that’s when you compromise your principles away,” he added. “You can’t set up a system in which you don’t compromise on anything, but you also can’t operate in a system where you compromise on everything.”