Monday, August 6, 2018

Did Obama Suck the Leadership Out of the Democrats?

Saturday my best girl and I were talking over coffee and the news on TV.  She was asserting that there seem to be three kinds of Democrats out there now.  She was referring to "Democrats, liberals and leftists" and by that, she meant (A) blue-collar union types who have always been Democrats even through Reagan and Trump, (B) Hollywood types and some minorities, who have no concept of economic reality and live only for social and stereotypically race-based issues, and (C) socialists, communists, and the college-polluted millennials who follow them.

The Democrats (all of the above) have always been a mixed bag who came together at the polls -- sometimes -- even though they might not have always agreed.  They got Clinton elected, and had an easier time with Barack Obama because of his father's color, capitalizing on race-based guilt among white voters.

But now it seems harder to imagine any kind of reconciliation, and that is because there is no unifying principle on which they can agree.  The blue-collar types are thinned out already because many who hadn't already escaped to vote for Reagan turned out for Trump, and more probably will now that their paychecks are larger.  Union bosses -- private-sector union bosses -- have lost vast influence with declining membership and lingering gangster reputations.

This distinction is being covered up -- unsuccessfully, of course -- by the Democratic National Committee, which cannot afford to have its membership split up to the point where it can not turn them out to vote in elections, particularly this fall.  But at some point they are going to have to come up with a somewhat-unifying message other than "We oppose President Trump because of something-or-other!!"

In order to have a message, though, you need to have a messenger.

This is a situation for the Democrats that simply cries out for leadership of some kind; someone to provide that message as soon as they, you know, come up with one.  But there is no leadership to be found.

I propose that the reason for that gap is simply that Barack Obama sucked all the leadership out of the Democrats in 2009 and left them in an untenable situation.

Here's the thing.  When a president is elected, he becomes the leader of the party, the messenger of its goals and approaches.  There is no room for another person to take that kind of role.  But with that leadership position comes responsibility, and Obama simply did not take it.  He was, it should be conceded, a good reader of speeches but a terrible leader, and as his presidency wound on, it became clear that there was no direction visible.

No one in his own party could oppose him of course, lest they be called a racist, so the Democrats were stuck with an ineffectual, Jimmy Carter-like leader in Obama, with no capacity to run a government and no ability to grow a new leadership cadre, ultimately running by corrupting his Justice Department and IRS into a weapon against political enemies.  All the excitement they felt at his election in 2008 eventually dissipated when it was clear they were stuck with his jello rudder for eight years.

In essence, Obama made it impossible for a subsequent leader to rise within the party and posit a platform that the USA could evaluate and vote for.  Instead, they nominated the corrupt and entitled Hillary Clinton, who could not only not lead, but could not articulate any reason to vote for her that did not start and end with her uterus.

Yugoslavia was, for many years, run by Marshal Tito, who effectively held together several former countries with ethnic and political hatred for each other.  When Tito died, Yugoslavia blew apart, and no longer exists.  The Democrats are in a somewhat analogous situation now, with no one to hold their various constituencies together, because no leadership has been cultivated and no message created.

While all that is going on -- and mind you, there is still no leadership among the Democrats and certainly no platform for voters to consider -- President Trump has delivered what should end up being an over 3% GDP increase for 2018, record low unemployment for black and Hispanic populations in the USA, detente with North Korea, an actual effort to level tariff imbalances, a massive tax cut that has fueled job growth, and big cuts to job-killing Federal regulations.

In a perfect world for the Democrats, they would have someone about 25 years younger than President Trump, a good speaker (not just a speech-reader) with some clear, active ideas to make the country better.  But there is no such person, and there are no clear, active ideas being proposed at all, let alone any that would produce predictably positive results.

But of course, that is in part because they cannot even get their finger on the problems that Americans feel need to be solved.  If they think that the problem is income inequality, or race relations, and try to come up with solutions that will address those things (which are, as I've written, not correctable), the solutions will sound like big government control and will be rejected out of hand by the voters.

If they don't know the problems, they won't have solutions.

If they can't articulate solutions, they won't get elected.

If they have nothing to articulate, no leader can arise to promote them.

They're in a pickle.  And it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Copyright 2018 by Robert Sutton
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  1.'s a little hard to keep the public excited when you decide that the most pressing issues of the day are near universal racism and misogyny, that half the country are Nazis and fascists, that conservatives are just waiting for a chance to inflict violence on a member of the LGBT community, and that we are in imminent mortal danger with the next micro-uptick in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Throw in free healthcare, education, universal basic income and curtailment of free speech, and at some point you will have an electoral disaster - that is, if you haven't managed to convince enough useful idiots to believe your nonsense.