The Joe Moneybags Gazette:
The Party that Obama Un-Built
The focus of this week’s Democratic convention was President Obama. Lost in the adulation was the diminished state to which he has brought his broader party. Today’s Democrats are a shadow of 2008—struggling for re-election, isolated to a handful of states, lacking reform ideas, bereft of a future political bench. It has been a stunning slide.
In 2006, Nancy Pelosi muzzled her liberal inclinations to recruit and elect her “Majority Makers”—a crop of moderate and conservative Democrats who won Republican districts and delivered control of the House for the first time in 14 years.
Democrats in 2006 also claimed the Senate, with savvy victories in states like Montana and Virginia. The party thumped Republicans in gubernatorial races, winning in the South (Arkansas), the Mountain West (Colorado), and in Ohio (for the first time since 1991). A vibrant candidate Obama further boosted Democratic ranks in 2008.
By 2009, President Obama presided over what could fairly be called a big-tent coalition. The Blue Dog caucus had swelled to 51 members, representing plenty of conservative America. Democrats held the majority of governorships. Mr. Obama had won historic victories in Virginia and North Carolina. The prediction of liberal demographers John Judis and Ruy Teixeira’s 2004 book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority”—lasting progressive dominance via a coalition of minorities, women, suburbanites and professionals—attracted greater attention among political analysts.
It took Mr. Obama two years to destroy this potential, with an agenda that forced his party to field vote after debilitating vote—stimulus, ObamaCare, spending, climate change. The public backlash, combined with the president’s mismanagement of the economy, has reversed Democrats’ electoral gains and left a party smaller than at any time since the mid-1990s.
I have to disagree somewhat – the problem with the Democratic party goes deeper than Obama. He is just an acute manifestation of a chronic disease. That’s why the party needs electoral chemotherapy.
It all started back in the 60′s when the New Deal coalition began to fracture and establishment liberals took control of the party. Even though the Democrats had a solid grip on Congress they began to suffer a series of blow-outs in the Electoral College.
From 1972 until 1988 the Republicans won the White House four out of five times – each time by a landslide. The lone exception was 1976 when Jimmy Carter won, but that was due to the backlash over Watergate.
The Democrats focused on identity politics – putting together a coalition of special interest groups like unions, minorities, feminists, environmentalists and the anti-war movement. This was effective in winning Congressional districts in part because the legacy of the New Deal left them in control of redistricting for another couple of decades. They also kept control of the Senate because seniority rules and the advantages of incumbency allowed Democratic dinosaurs to remain in office even as their states began turning red.
Then came Bill Clinton – a different kind of Democrat. He ran as a moderate and managed to pull off a plurality victory in the popular vote, thus winning a majority in the Electoral College. Establishment Democrats and the DFH wing hated him because he wasn’t a doctrinaire liberal. But the voters liked him, especially after they got a good look at Newt Gingrich.
I never realized until 2008 how much the far left despised Bill Clinton because I live in a red zone where liberals are an endangered species. Even the Democrats here are conservative. Back then there was no blogosphere where people could gather and discuss politics. We had to do that stuff face-to-face and I was always one of the most liberal voices around.
I thought Bill Clinton was a great preezy. Nobody around these parts ever called him a “DINOcrat” or a traitor to the party. What’s not to like about peace and prosperity?
Things caught up with the Democrats in 1994 when their institutional advantages of seniority and incumbency left them too ossified to adapt to changing times. Then the Republicans overreached and Bill Clinton out-maneuvered them, winning a second term in 1996. But the Democratic establishment still blamed him for the loss of Congress.
Al Gore lost in 2000 because the left thought he was too much like Bill Clinton. John Kerry lost in 2004 because the voters thought he was too much like McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis. If it hadn’t been for 9-11 Bush probably would have lost anyway. The voters were so disgusted with Bush and “movement conservatism” that by 2006 they voted the Republicans out of office, handing the Democrats an unexpected and unearned victory.
In doing so they returned to power two old dinosaurs – Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Their goal was to restore the old order, and that included blocking Hillary Clinton from the nomination. It was a power struggle and the Clintons lost. Barack Obama was installed as the nominee and he went on to win the White House.
And that brings us to where the article cited above begins.
Filed under: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton | Tagged: Barack Obama, Democratic Party | 47 Comments »