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Obama’s progressive voting message isn’t progressive enough for Slate

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Obamas progressive voting message isnt progressive enough for Slate

The unchallenged leader of the progressive movement is Barack Obama. That may irk disciples of Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris, but neither those Senators nor California Governor Jerry Brown nor Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker have been able to consolidate the leftist vote the way President Obama has done.

He is now breaking with tradition and aggressively speaking out against his successor. His current message is very similar to his old messages from the campaign trail: go vote. While acknowledging there are problems with voter suppression, he doesn’t feel that anyone can truly be prevented from voting if they really want to. That message didn’t sit well with Jamelle Bouie at Slate.

Obama’s Illinois speech and the limits of his legacy.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/obamas-illinois-speech-and-the-limits-of-his-legacy.htmlA more forgiving attitude toward those who don’t vote—and a greater recognition of obstacles to the ballot—may not fit with Obama’s vision of civic engagement and responsibility. But it does speak to feelings of disenchantment and disengagement that proved ruinous for Democrats in the last two national elections. Democratic apathy in 2014 contributed to Republican Senate gains; Democratic apathy (and voter suppression) in 2016 helped Donald Trump become president, giving Republicans an opportunity to undermine Obama’s legislative and regulatory accomplishments. Talking about voter suppression may not energize voters, but downplaying it rings false. Greater engagement with the problem—even using it to center a voting-rights agenda—may have proved more effective this cycle than essentially trying to shame Americans into voting.

My Take

For once, I actually agree with a portion of Obama’s message. He believes there are no external roadblocks to voting and he’s correct. What progressives want is the easiest path to voting so their less-enthusiastic voter base will get up and do it.

Here’s the problem. Most voter laws are made to prevent election rigging. They aren’t intended to prevent American citizens from voting once. They’re intended to prevent citizens from voting more than once or non-citizens from voting at all. There’s an unfortunate trade-off. These laws truly do make it less likely people will jump through hoops to get their vote in. As progressives know, those less willing to jump through hoops are more likely Democrats.

The sentiment generated by this issue will be determined by the narrative presented and the leanings of those hearing the narrative. Generally, those on the left will scream suppression while those on the right will scream rigged. Neither is right, but neither is entirely wrong. What Slate realizes is that a voice as powerful as Obama’s has the weight to push the suppression narrative better than anyone else.

Essentially, they want him to stop telling people they can vote if they really want to and start telling people their votes are being suppressed. If they can get him and others to trumpet their message, it will be easier for them to remove the laws that protect elections from being stolen through foul play.

When Obama is being scolded for not being progressive enough on an issue, you know it’s gone as far out to left field as possible.

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