During an Obama Foundation town hall in Berlin, former President Barack Obama expressed concern that rigidity, purity tests, and infighting are weakening the American left.
The president also admonished progressive politicians to avoid a "circular firing squad," according to Business Insider.
"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," Obama said. "When that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens."
The former president also highlighted the need for compromise to resolve disagreements in a democratic society.
"You have to recognize that the way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don't agree with you," Obama said. "That by definition means you're not going to get 100 percent of what you want."
The former president's comments come as congressional progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) have sparred with more moderate or even liberal Democrats. The 2020 primary battle among Democrats has also been heating up, while leading candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) have touted their progressive bona fides.
Ocasio-Cortez reportedly made a "list" of centrist Democrats who voted with House Republicans on an amendment to a background checks bill which would notify Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when an illegal immigrant attempts to purchase a gun. The freshman Democrat claims she meant Democrats were putting themselves on a list of progressive advocacy group targets.
The news of her list prompted Rep. Max Rose (D., N.Y.) to issue a challenge: "If she wants to primary me, if the Justice Democrats want to primary me, I'll lay out the red carpet. We can settle this at the polls."
The intensity of the 2020 primary battle has also picked up, with former vice president Joe Biden facing accusations of inappropriately invading the personal space of women and Harris under fire for her record as a prosecutor in California.