Thanks, Obama, but these patronising lectures are getting old. Most progressives, I’d wager, are well aware change doesn’t happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean we need to compromise our values or ambitions. That doesn’t mean we should “get over” the “crazy” idea that we can build a more equal world for everyone.
While Obama’s recent denunciations of the left are disappointing, they are not exactly surprising. After all, while he may have promised hope and change, Obama was never truly progressive. He deported 1.2 million people during his first three years in office; Trump, by the way, has deported fewer than 800,000 while he has been president. Obama spearheaded a secretive drone war; he expanded the surveillance state; he attempted to cut social security benefits, even though his campaign promised he would expand them; he denounced the influence of money in politics and then gave his big-money donors plum posts in his administration. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to demonise Obama. He did a lot of good and he was a million times better than Trump – although that is, of course, an incredibly low bar. But he was always centrist. He never believed in systemic change.