HuffPo Editor: With The Democrats In Ruins, You Have To Ask Whether Obama Was Good For The Party

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 30, 2016 4:15 PM
HuffPo Editor: With The Democrats In Ruins, You Have To Ask Whether Obama Was Good For The Party

Even The Huffington Post cannot let the down-ballot gutting of the Democrats go unnoticed. Senior politics editor Sam Stein was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday, where he said that while Obama was re-elected twice proving himself to be an excellent candidate—his party has suffered catastrophic losses during his presidency. In all, the Democrats have lost 1,030 seats at the state and federal level, a wipeout of at least a generation of Democratic talent. Stein added that with such a political butcher’s bill, you have to ask whether this man was good for Democrats (via The Hill):

You look at the destruction of the Democratic Party under Barack Obama’s leadership and you have to wonder, what was the political — what were the electoral benefits that he gave to the party?” Stein asked on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” on Wednesday.

“He leaves them in a much worse position,” Stein continued. “The states are decimated, they lost control of the House and Senate, the governorships are decimated.”

Leah wrote how Charles Krauthammer called the Democratic losses under Obama “incalculable.” Yet, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post decided to throw cold water on the notion that the Democratic Party is finished. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t be all that sad if this current iteration of the Democratic Party vanished into thin air. Then again, we have to remember that the Left made the same points about the GOP after Obama’s 2008 win. The notions of permanent majorities, the electoral shift, etc.--all were spewed by the news media. There were even essays detailing how conservatism was at an end. Cillizza cited Roll Call’s Stuart Rothenberg’s tweet, where the election analyst said that people thought Goldwater had destroyed the GOP after 1964. Sixteen years later, Ronald Reagan became president of the United States.

Yet, some of this appears to be an argument about semantics. After all, Cillizza said that the party was not destroyed, but hurt really, really, bad:

That word aside, however, Stein's sentiment about the state of the Democratic Party as Obama prepares to exit the White House is 100 percent accurate. Barack Obama has been exceptionally good for the brand of “Barack Obama” but far less good for the broader Democratic Party. His appeal was never transferable to down-ballot races, while some of his major accomplishments — especially the Affordable Care Act — turned out to be major negatives for the party's candidates for House and Senate.

While I don’t agree with the politics of Stein’s outlet, I’m sure he knows that the Democrats aren’t finished. Even when we wrote that Obama’s legacy was his party’s total destruction (yes, a bit hyperbolic), it’s sort of hard not to draw those initial conclusions when you see the Post’s chart on the losses suffered by Democrats under the Obama presidency. Moreover, you can generally say that for Democrats in the Appalachia region of the country. 

The state and local elections is where the new talent is found. Democrats are nowhere near that pool (right now). If Democrats are serious about walking out of the wilderness, then re-connect with white working class voters that number in the tens of millions. These people voted Trump, but they can shift back. Yet, the Democrats are now a coastal and urban-based party, where snobby elites will not take too kindly about reaching out to white voters. These areas are bastions for black lives matter, transgender bathroom rights, notions that all police officers are racists, trigger warnings, and safe spaces. These people are not interested in anyone who isn’t from where they live, who are not college educated, and who don’t speak with learned diction. Right now, Democrats don’t seem to be keen on changing their tune; they’ve just picked San Francisco and New York-based liberals (Pelosi and Schumer) to helm the ship in Congress. Democrats can fix this, but I have a feeling they won't anytime soon. We shouldn't be complaining about that.