Barack Obama enters discussion on 2020 race

Last Friday at the annual Democracy Alliance meeting in Washington D.C., former President Barack Obama spoke about the overwhelming radicality of some of the 2020 democratic candidates plans. While he didn’t mention any names, his critiques seemed more applicable to some candidates more than others. 

Obama has been a talking point in the past few democratic debates. With Obama’s former Vice President Joe Biden and Obama’s former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro both running for president, arguments over who is more capable of carrying on his legacy have occurred.  

One such argument broke out in full force during the third democratic debate. The issue began when Castro criticised Biden for creating a healthcare plan that citizens would have to “buy into” — a statement that Biden disagreed with. 

“Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered,” Castro said to Biden during the debate. “He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that. Your plan would not. I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama, and you’re not.” 

Obama did not address this conflict at his speech on Friday. Instead, he focused on the radicality of the candidates plans, criticising them for not concentrating on the basic things that Americans really want and focusing more on having the most eye-catching plan. 

“This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” Obama said at the meeting. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”

It has been speculated that this criticism is directed at populist candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Both Sanders and Warren have increasingly elaborate — and expensive — plans to improve the current conditions of the country. When it comes to debate, they have a hard time conceding to any other ideas. Warren’s strategy is to repeat her catchy phrases and stories of the people she has talked to. Sanders uses distracting hand motions and talks over his opponents. Either way, they are dead set in their radical ways, and anyone who attempts to disprove them is waved off as being too conservative. 

“One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States… is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,’” Obama said at the meeting. 

It’s not that Sanders and Warren’s plans are bad. In fact, they could help a great ton of people if executed properly. The problem is that their success rate is unlikely. 

For example, take this article from The New York Times. (Linked here). If all of Warren’s plans were to be carried out, she is on track to spend over 30 trillion dollars in the next decade. This includes providing universal childcare, fighting climate change, increasing social security benefits and her most expensive plan yet: Medicare for All. 

With Obama’s advice now laid out for all voters to contemplate, it will surely be a talking point in the upcoming debate Nov. 20, which will be held in Atlanta, GA. The debate will host 10 candidates. Their most recent polling averages are listed below, based on a 13 day average from Oct. 30 – Nov. 12. In other news, Democrat Deval Patrick, former governor of Massachusetts, has entered the 2020 race and Republican Mark Sanford has left. 

Poll results for the 10 candidates who qualified for the fifth democratic debate:

Joe Biden: 26.0

Elizabeth Warren: 20.8

Bernie Sanders: 17.8

Pete Buttigieg: 8.0

Kamala Harris: 5.3

Andrew Yang: 2.8

Amy Klobuchar: 2.3

Cory Booker: 2.3

Tulsi Gabbard: 1.0

Tom Steyer: 1.0

Thanks for reading, and check back next Sunday for another political column.