Sunday, November 13, 2016

5 Ways Donald Trump’s Victory Is Barack Obama’s Legacy

When a party loses a presidential election, especially one as eminently winnable as this, the primary blame has to go to the candidate. Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed, uncharismatic, scandal-plagued candidate who ran a lackluster, uninspiring campaign where her main strategy was simply to run out the clock. After this, Democrats are going to have to retire “Dukakis” as their byword for electoral failure and replace it with “Hillary.”
But what most people haven’t realized yet is the extent to which this election loss is also the legacy of President Obama, on five different levels.
1) Obama discouraged more electable alternatives to Hillary Clinton.
Over the course of last night, I watched a lot of Democrats talking themselves into the notion that they could have won this election if only they had nominated Bernie Sanders. That is almost certainly a delusion. Bernie Sanders is far, far to the left of the majority of voters, and if we weren’t talking about Hillary Clinton’s scandals, we’d be talking about how Jane Sanders pocketed big paychecks while running a college into the ground.
The fact is that the Democratic Party had a terrible roster of big-name political talent. The tragedy for Republicans is that they won this year with their worst candidate. The tragedy for Democrats is that they lost because they had no better candidate to offer. But why didn’t they? A lot of this has to do with Barack Obama’s unexpected victory in the 2008 Democratic primaries.
Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in 2008 by moving the Democrats to the left. He told them that they didn’t have to accept the compromises and pragmatic “triangulation” of the old Clinton administration. He swept them up in the belief in an idealistic leader who would pursue the full agenda of the left. His success swept away the last remnants of the old Democratic Leadership Caucus that had urged compromise and accommodation with the Reagan agenda.
The consequence of this is that the only viable alternative to Hillary Clinton was someone who opposed her from the far left, while an old-fashioned conservative Democrat like Jim Webb seemed obsolete and out of place. This, in turn, made it possible for Donald Trump to sweep away the votes of the blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” with no real resistance.
2) Obama’s mania for unpopular policies ran his party into the ground.
The other reason the Democrats had such a poor bench of presidential contenders is that their roster of elected officials has been severely diminished during the Obama years. President Obama’s re-election in 2012 may have been a big success at the top level of politics, but it helped Democrats ignore a series of devastating defeats on every level below that. Over the past eight years, Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress and got shellacked in governors’ races and in state legislatures.
It’s not difficult to explain why. President Obama stubbornly pursued a series of deeply unpopular policies, the crown jewel of which is Obamacare. To pass Obamacare, President Obama sacrificed his party’s congressional majority, on the assumption that the program would prove overwhelmingly popular once it was in place. In reality, Obamacare has vindicated all of its critics’ dire warnings, with a new round of double-digit premium hikes hitting just before Election Day this year.
But Democrats were so busy congratulating themselves on beating Mitt Romney that they totally failed to notice their underlying electoral weakness.
An added level of irony: one of the advisors who encouraged President Obama to ram Obamacare through Congress after it was clear the voters had rejected it was Tim Kaine—who will now, as a result, never be vice president of the United States.
Read the rest of this op-ed from The Federalist HERE.

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