Red Lines

From the New York Times today, reporting on Barack Obama’s final press conference:

“There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” Mr. Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room.

Mr. Obama continued: “I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise. I’d put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids, and send them someplace else, when they love this country.”

 All of his red lines seemed to refer to positions taken in the past by Mr. Trump.

  • Systematic discrimination.
  • Explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise.
  • Institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press.
  • Efforts to round up kids … who are for all practical purposes American kids.

That’s a pretty great list of fundamental issues: issues that are outside the bounds of legitimate politics.  I’m glad President Obama has named these as ones on which he would engage the next President.

I note that health care is not on the list.  I presume that’s because President Obama considers it an important issue, but not a “core values” one.  Nor is climate change.  And you can think of many other issues that he has made central to his policy agenda.  He’s saying that the red line issues are more fundamental

They form a great list of “red line issues” for all of us.  Take note.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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