Let Me Address the Absurd Freak-Out by Some Over Obama’s Paid Wall Street Speech

The “Purist Patrol” is at it again, throwing a hissy fit over a Democrat giving a paid speech to Wall Street. This time it’s Barack Obama who’s set to give a speech at a Wall Street event where he’ll apparently be paid $400k for doing so.

I’m an unapologetic progressive (though I’m sure some of the purists reading this will say otherwise in the comments section), but I’m not a far-left ideologue who lives in a world of fake outrage, irrational behavior, and knee-jerk reactions to non-stories.

Are there problems on Wall Street? Absolutely. Is Wall Street the devil? No. This over-simplification by many on the left that all things Wall Street are terrible is every bit as childish as many of the blanket generalizations I see from Trump supporters.

Here’s a “shocking” truth: It’s possible to be both pro-Wall Street and pro-sensible Wall Street regulations — the support of neither is mutually exclusive.

If someone wanted to pay me $400k to give a speech, I’d gladly accept it. But I also come from the mindset that you can give a speech to a Wall Street event like the one being put on by investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, speak highly about the actual positive things that many of these companies have done, while also giving an honest assessment about the problems they, and the government, need to work together on to make sure our economy works well for all Americans.

Just because someone pays you to give a speech doesn’t mean they’re going to like everything you say. The former president is extremely popular, a fantastic speaker, and someone who doesn’t have to bend to the will of any business, group, or organization who wants to pay him some large sum of money to speak.

But… but… it looks bad and Wall Street is unethical and corrupt! 

Grow up, Peter Pan.

Words cannot express how sick to death I am of the inability to have effective, rational adult conversations in this country because the “outrage patrol,” both on the left and the right, constantly hijacks many of these crucial discussions to push their all-or-nothing approach to whatever they believe. The people who’ll say I’m not a “real progressive” because I don’t care about speeches such as these or the far-right radicals who call moderate Republicans R.I.N.Os (Republicans In Name Only) for not subscribing to every piece of idiocy the tea party supports.

Life is almost never about being “all-or-nothing.” Whether it’s how we eat, our relationships, or dealing with our work and private lives — finding a healthy balance is almost always the primary goal.

Which is why it drives me crazy that there are so many people in this country who act like politics is a zero-sum game. That somehow “compromise” has suddenly become a dirty word. Like it or not, it’s possible for both sides to win and lose. It’s really the choice between focusing on what you “won” vs. what you didn’t get. A big part of life is about knowing how to pick your battles, prioritizing what’s important, realizing the world doesn’t revolve around you, and that you’re not always going to get everything you want.

I’m all for passion and believing in something. However, there’s a difference between passion and being irrational. Based on a lot of what I see in politics, quite a few people often confuse the two.

The Democratic Party doesn’t need to brand itself the “anti-Wall Street party,” it needs to brand itself as the party for rational discourse, believing in facts, and common sense. We shouldn’t be about ideology. The only thing we should care about is what’s true and factual — to hell with “ideology.” It’s this blind devotion to ideological beliefs that often prevents people from seeing the actual truths and allows fake news to thrive.

This is the sort of absurd behavior that keeps allowing Republicans to win in nearly every corner of this country. Too many on the far-left are spending most of their time whining about actual progressives who don’t meet their purity standards. While Donald Trump:

  • Tries to ban Muslims.
  • Wants to gut Medicaid.
  • Wants to take health care away from millions.
  • Is pushing us toward WWIII.
  • Could very well start a trade war that sends prices in this country skyrocketing.
  • Is putting oil people in charge of environmental policies.
  • Pushes to allow for oil drilling in our national parks and on more federal lands.
  • Is going to gut net neutrality.
  • Has rolled back protections on ISPs being allowed to sell personal information.
  • Wants to give the richest among us a massive tax break that the poor and middle class will pay for.
  • Rolls back regulations on Wall Street.
  • Has proposed massive cuts to the EPA.

As all that’s going on, there are some on the far-left having a meltdown because Barack Obama is going to be paid $400k to give a speech at a Wall Street event. Many of the same people who helped elect Trump because they couldn’t get over the fact that, like Obama, Hillary Clinton had given a couple of speeches to Goldman Sachs.

You know, I guess these folks are right. It’s much better that this nation is being led by a climate change-denying wannabe dictator who’s effectively undoing a lot of the progress we’ve made in this country over the last 10-20 years because his opponent during the election used a private email server over four years ago and gave a couple of speeches to Wall Street. I mean, it’s completely rational that if you can’t get 100 percent of what you wanted, it’s better to get none of it, all while losing what you already had and could have protected, right?

If you want to make a big deal out of Barack Obama accepting big-money speaking fees like he’ll be getting at this Wall Street event, by all means, that’s your right to do so. If you want to act like that “proves” something about the Democratic Party, go right ahead.

As for me, I’m going to continue to do my best to deal with life factually and rationally. That means I’m not always going to support things that appease the purists, nor am I going to waste my time faking outrage over nonsense that doesn’t matter. There’s far too much going on in this country for Democrats to be fighting among themselves because one of the best presidents we’ve had in the modern history of this country — as a private citizen — is being paid a lot of money to give a speech at a Wall Street event.

Last time I checked, Donald Trump wasn’t paid big money to give speeches, didn’t take money from huge donors like most presidential candidates have, and vilified Wall Street throughout much of his campaign — yet he’s one of the most unethical, corrupt, pro-Wall Street crooks to ever be “elected to office.”

So, how about we make a deal? Let’s stop being distracted by these empty, fake outrage-generating talking points that really don’t mean a damn thing and start focusing on what really matters.

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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