Obama Criticizes Democratic Cancel Culture During Podcast Interview

The rise of “cancel culture” as we're calling it and the idea of canceling someone coincides with a familiar pattern: A celebrity or other public figure does or says something offensive or said something in the past that was offensive and it re-surfaces. There is a big public backlash, often ignited by politically progressive social media posts the cancelling ensues.

Barack Obama

This article was originally published on BLAC Detroit.

Former President Barack Obama publicly addressed a concern voiced by Democratic strategists privately for quite awhile – that the liberal base of the Democratic party is so focused the possibility of offending certain interest groups that they are losing the larger audience of voters as a result. Obama, 61 criticizes the “cancellation culture” in his party, voicing that “we can all, at any moment, say things the wrong way, and make mistakes.” Obama has called some in his party “pretentious Democrats,” saying those in office or who are seeking office need to “be able to talk to everyone about their common interests.”

Pod Save America Podcast

In the Pod Save America Podcast interview, Obama voiced, “Sometimes people just want to not feel like they’re walking on eggshells, and they want some acknowledgment that life is messy and that all of us at any given moment can say things the wrong way, make mistakes. I think where we fall sometimes is where we try to suggest that some groups are more . . . because historically they have fallen victim more, and in a way they have a different situation than others. How does politics even – how is it even relevant to the things that I care most deeply about? My family, my kids, work that gives me satisfaction, having fun, not being a buzzkill, right? …”

Obama is not saying that Democrats are wrong in their approach. Instead, he’s suggesting that they operate from a place of understanding for those who are still evolving in their thinking – and not assume the worst motives of them.

Obama cites his own mother-in-law as a case in point. “She’s 86, you know, and sometimes trying to get the right phraseology when we’re talking about issues, Michelle’s like, that’s like her trying to learn Spanish. It doesn’t mean she shouldn’t try to learn Spanish, but it means that sometimes she’s not gonna get the words right. And that’s OK, right?”

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It’s that attitude of understanding that is “a little more real and a little more grounded,” according to Obama, that would help Democrats. He said it “goes a long way in counteracting what is the systematic propaganda that I think is being pumped out by Fox News and all these other outlets all the time.”

What is Cancel Culture?

Within the past few years, the idea that a person or a brand can be “canceled” — in other words, culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform, voice or career — has become a polarizing topic of concentration. The rise of “cancel culture” as we’re calling it and the idea of canceling someone coincides with a familiar pattern: A celebrity or other public figure does or says something offensive or said something in the past that was offensive and it re-surfaces. There is a big public backlash, often ignited by politically progressive social media posts the cancelling ensues.

Then come the outrage and calls to cancel the person or the brand — that is, to effectively end their career or revoke their cultural privilege, whether through boycotts of their work or disciplinary action from an employer or endorsement.

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