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Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression—even if Hillary wins.


WestVirginiaRebel

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WestVirginiaRebel
democratic-blues-121561.html#.VdeeZflVgaAPolitico:

As historians begin to assess Barack Obama’s record as president, there’s at least one legacy he’ll leave that will indeed be historic—but not in the way he would have hoped. Even as Democrats look favorably ahead to the presidential landscape of 2016, the strength in the Electoral College belies huge losses across much of the country. In fact, no president in modern times has presided over so disastrous a stretch for his party, at almost every level of politics.

 

Legacies are often tough to measure. If you want to see just how tricky they can be, consider the campaign to get Andrew Jackson off the $20 bill 178 years after he left the White House. Working class hero? How about slave owner and champion of Native American genocide? Or watch how JFK went from beloved martyr to the man whose imperial overreach entrapped us in Vietnam, and then back to the president whose prudence kept the Cuban Missile Crisis from turning into World War III.

 

Yet when you move from policy to politics, the task is a lot simpler—just measure the clout of the president’s party when he took office and when he left it. By that measure, Obama’s six years have been terrible.

 

Under Obama, the party started strong. “When Obama was elected in 2008, Democrats were at a high water mark,” says David Axelrod, who served as one of Obama’s top strategists. “Driven by antipathy to George W. Bush and then the Obama wave, Democrats had enjoyed two banner elections in ’06 and ’08. We won dozens of improbable congressional elections in states and districts that normally would tack Republican, and that effect trickled down to other offices. You add to that the fact that we would take office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and it was apparent, from Day One, that we had nowhere to go but down.”

 

The first signs of the slowly unfolding debacle that has meant the decimation of the Democratic Party nationally began early—with the special election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s empty Senate seat in Massachusetts. That early loss, even though the seat was won back eventually by Elizabeth Warren, presaged the 2010 midterms, which saw the loss of 63 House and six Senate seats. It was disaster that came as no surprise to the White House, but also proved a signal of what was to come.

 

The party’s record over the past six years has made clear that when Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials. It is, in fact, so bleak a record that even if the Democrats hold the White House and retake the Senate in 2016, the party’s wounds will remain deep and enduring, threatening the enactment of anything like a “progressive” agenda across much of the nation and eliminating nearly a decade’s worth of rising stars who might help strengthen the party in elections ahead.

 

When Obama came into the White House, it seemed like the Democrats had turned a corner generationally; at just 47, he was one of the youngest men to be elected as president. But the party has struggled to build a new generation of leaders around him. Eight years later, when he leaves office in 2017 at 55, he’ll actually be one of the party’s only leaders not eligible for Social Security. Even as the party has recently captured more young voters at the ballot box in presidential elections, its leaders are increasingly of an entirely different generation; most of the party’s leaders will fade from the national scene in the years ahead. Its two leading presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are 67 and 73. The sitting vice president, Joe Biden, is 72. The Democratic House leader, Nancy Pelosi, is 75; House Whip Steny Hoyer is 76 and caucus Chair James Clyburn is 75, as is Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, who will retire next year. It’s a party that will be turning to a new generation of leaders in the coming years—and yet, there are precious few looking around the nation’s state houses, U.S. House or Senate seats.

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His work is done...isn't that a good thing?

 


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