Former President Barack Obama spoke to several dozen Democratic Party whales on Friday and gave a backhanded endorsement to his former Vice President Joe Biden.
Obama, who bragged about wanting to “transform” America, warned fellow Democrats not to lurch too far to the left during the campaign lest they scare off moderate Republicans and some Democrats.
The centrist wing of the party has warned for months that a far-left nominee could alienate moderate Republicans and independent voters needed to oust President Donald Trump.
“The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it. And I think it’s important for us not to lose sight of that,” Obama said. “There are a lot of persuadable voters and there are a lot of Democrats out there who just want to see things make sense. They just don’t want to see crazy stuff. They want to see things a little more fair, they want to see things a little more just. And how we approach that I think will be important.”
The far-left former president urged candidates to be grounded in reality and not veer off and mirror what’s on “left-wing Twitter feeds.”
Immigration and health care are two issues he cited as cases where Democratic candidates are out of sync with public sentiment.
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality and the fact that voters, including the Democratic voters and certainly persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans, are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain, you know, left-leaning Twitter feeds,” Obama said.
As far as the size of the still huge Democratic primary field, he told the mega-donors to relax.
He also sought also to ease jittery Democrats who have been wringing their hands over the size of the sprawling field, which some worry will lead to a prolonged contest that will leave the eventual nominee with limited time to prepare for the general election.
“I just have to remind you that I had a very robust primary,” Obama said. “Not only did I win ultimately a remarkably tough and lengthy primary process with Hillary Clinton, but people forget that even before that we had a big field of really serious, accomplished people.”
If you read The Nation, the New Republic, and the New York Times op-ed page, you know that liberals believe that this is “their moment.” They believe that the American people have somehow morphed into super left-wing radicals and would love Medicare for All and other free stuff.
If you look at polls, those issues resonate with a lot of people. But when you include the $30 trillion price tag for national health insurance, and the trillions it would cost for other pie-in-the-sky Democratic fantasy programs, support drops through the floor. The American people are, as they’ve always been, fairly middle of the road and lean conservative on most issues, although not radically so.
Barack Obama’s warnings should be heeded. He himself was able to couch his “transform America” rhetoric into friendly, sugar-coated bits that were easy to swallow and digest. Unlike Bernie Sanders, who has openly called for “revolution,” Obama and his clear favorite Joe Biden knew the value of subtlety in their proposals. Otherwise, the kind of “change” being proposed by Sanders, Warren, and other candidates might appeal to their rabid, frothing base, but turn off most other voters.
After going wobbly for a few weeks, Biden seems to have found his footing and is recovering in the polls. But Warren, Sanders, and the far left aren’t going anywhere and the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party will continue all the way through the party convention next year.