Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016--Obama's Political Legacy

There's lot of talk about Barack Obama's legacy. There's much that is positive to take note of and important things that will complicate the way he is remembered.

In regard to the latter there is the rupture in our relationship with Russia and chaos everywhere in the Middle East for which he is at least partially responsible.

The positive side of the ledger includes the impressive though imperfect Obamacare, the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, the stimulus and economic recovery, and Wall Street reform.

Of a different sort is his political legacy. How many Democrats of high caliber did he inspire to seek high office and how did they in general fare?

By any measure, not very well--

Between 2009 and now there are 12 fewer Democratic governors, 900+ fewer Democratic state legislature seats, 69 fewer Democratic House members, and 13 fewer senators.

And, yes, one less Democratic president--Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton will be inaugurated next month.

This is not the meaning of life, but to progressives who care about the future of the Democratic Party the data require that we search for why this political tsunami swept so many away, wiping out a host of next-generation candidates.

The focus naturally has been on the results of the presidential election. If Democrats engaged in the forensics continue to cling to the notion that Clinton lost because of FBI director Jim Comey's letters and Putin's and Russian hacking, the numbers of elected officials will continue to slide further right.

For one, it's essential to acknowledge that Hillary was a terrible candidate who didn't have a convincing story about why she wanted to be president. Saying it was to make history by electing a woman or because it was her turn, ignored what elections are about--not the candidates, but the people they seek to represent.

For all his craziness, Trump did a much better job of presenting himself. How could a billionaire who lives in an actual gilded penthouse represent himself successfully as a friend of working people? How could someone with an orange face, three wives, and a lifetime of overt sexism gain the votes of 53 percent of white women?

We need to find answers to these questions. And very soon.

I've suggested here that a good analysis of the problems can be found in Thomas Frank's Listen, Liberal.

The fact that Democratic Party leaders continue to be stuck on Comey and Putin prompts me to assign it as required reading.

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