President Barack Obama held an Obama Foundation Town Hall Europe event on Saturday in Berlin, Yahoo reports, where he talked about the main goal of his foundation—which is to encourage young leaders in different fields. He spent part of his speech calling out “cancel culture,” noting that it could backfire on activists on the left.
Jumping off his experience working to make Obamacare a reality, he told the audience, “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States ... is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘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 is straying from purity on the issues. And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens.”
The 44th president urged the audience to allow for more flexibility in finding routes to success. “I think, whether you are speaking as a citizen or as a political leader or as an organizer ... you have to recognize that the way we’ve structured democracy requires you to take into account people who don’t agree with you, and that by definition means you’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want.”
The former community organizer, however, also reminded his listeners how important it is to know what you stand for: “But you should take some time to think in your own mind, ‘What are my core principles?’ because … if you don’t know what your principles are, that’s when you compromise your principles away. ... You can’t set up a system in which you don’t compromise on anything, but you also can’t operate in a system where you compromise on everything.”
Watch the full town hall below:
Correction: Sept. 22, 2019, 6:30 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and to add fuller sourcing.