The savior is returning. Barack Obama may get back into the trenches to help his party, which was widely expected, especially with the midterm season upon us. The former president is reportedly having regular check-ins with Democratic Party leaders, with speculation that he’s aiming to rebuild the party he helped destroy over the course of his presidency. The era of the permanent Democratic majority that was talked about pervasively post-2008 crashed and burned after the 2010 midterms. Democrats passed a $1 trillion stimulus that didn’t do much and Obamacare saddled the middle class with skyrocketing premiums, less competition, and less choice. Most importantly, it was sold to the American voter as a lie. Remember if you like your plan/doctor, you can keep it under Obamacare? Well, you couldn’t keep your plan, nor could you keep your doctor.
Since Obama’s presidency, the Democratic Party has been decimated across the country. The GOP now controls two-thirds of the governorships, the White House, Congress, and 69/99 state legislatures. They’re the dominant political force in the country. The Democrats went all in on Obama, building the party around the man. It paid off in some way—they did win two back-to-back presidential elections, but he’s gone. As of now, there’s no clue as to who’s in charge of the Democratic Party. It should be Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, but he seems hesitant to assume that role. So, the Left is going to use the man who burnt down the house to try and fix it. Where Obama will make his resurgence in the political fight will be on the fundraising circuit, with some dabbling in Virginia’s gubernatorial election this year to kick things off (via The Hill):
Since leaving office, he has held meetings — on a by-request basis — with a handful of House and Senate lawmakers in his office in Washington’s West End and over the phone.
In recent months, for example, he sat down one-on-one with freshman Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting.
He has also met with and has had phone conversations with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez throughout the spring, according to two sources.
The DNC source described Obama’s chats with Perez as regular “check ins.”
Obama hasn’t had a major public presence on the political stage since leaving the White House.
One source close to the former president said that while Obama wants to provide space for new leadership in the party to step in, he also wants to be “an available resource” for those drafting the Democratic message.
The conversations between Obama and the lawmakers and party leaders are said to vary.
With Perez, the men discussed the outlines of the party's future. With others, he has discussed policy.
Obama — known for his ability to reach various segments of the Democratic Party — has talked about bridging the party’s current divide by explaining policy nuance in story form.
Obama's post-presidency office would not comment for this story.
The former president is expected to stay out of the political fray for now, sources familiar with his planning say, but he will begin emerging on the fundraising circuit and on the stump for candidates including Ralph Northam, the Democrat running for governor of Virginia, in the fall.
Northam approached the former president — who carried the state in 2008 and 2012 with the help of millennials and African-Americans — and asked him to get involved.
Obama's a heavy hitter for the party. The problem is that only Democrats like him. Obama did well enough with the white working class over Mitt Romney to clinch a second term, partially because he went into deep red districts—MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough explained this—to prevent a rural running up of the score that could make things tight for the 44th president. I’m sure he didn’t expect to win rural America, but when you lose in a red district by 25 instead of 50, while getting solid margins in the heavily Democratic urban areas, that’s how you win. For Obama, it worked well. Now, after two terms and no delivery on those promises made during the 2012 election, specifically on jobs, I doubt these people will vote Democratic in 2018. Chris Arnade of The Guardian, like The Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, has logged hundreds of thousands of miles speaking and reporting from rural America. It’s tough. Even Hillary voters, like Anthony Rice from Youngstown, Ohio, said he wasn’t shocked that Trump won.
“Obama promised a lot and only a little came of it. Maybe New York City got delivered promises. This street here is still filled with homes falling down,” he said.
In the Democratic bastion of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, many voters just sat it out, unenthused by Hillary and disappointed with Obama that their lives have not improved under his presidency as promised. The New York Times reported on this lack of enthusiasm from within Democratic strongholds. Yet, these are the people who don’t need to be convinced. Obama needs to try and win over white working class voters, who overwhelmingly rejected the Democratic Party in 2016. Democrats in most of Appalachia are an endangered species. This area used to be the backbone of the party. On top of that, these voters see a hostile media against Trump, which in some corners has only entrenched support. Even with Trump’s lackluster approval ratings because Democrats have issues with recruitment (i.e. not the number of new recruits per se but finding people who can actually win) and the fact that GOP voters are more spread out that the super clusters of Democrats in the cities, it’s quite possible the GOP holds onto their majority. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn also warned that even with spikes in turnout for Democrats, it still might not be enough, as we saw in GA-06, leaving Democrats with a 2018 electorate similar to that of 2016 which benefitted Trump and the Republicans.
Jon Ossoff’s loss in Georgia’s special congressional election, the most expensive House race in history, to Republican Karen Handel shows that the Democrats still haven’t found a way to win over suburban voters who trend Republican. To deflate Democratic hopes even further comes the left-leaning Third Way think tank, which noted, “Democrats still would not win the House even if they could get every single 2016 Clinton voter who backed a Republican House candidate to turn out again in 2018 and cross over.” They also said there weren’t enough suburban House districts for the Democrats to win in order to retake the House.
Democrats have 1,000 fewer members in office since 2008-09. Those are the words of Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The Democratic butcher’s bill under Obama’s tenure is immense. He’s gutted the party and now the Left, who has no one else, is forced to bring him back for reconstruction. This situation, where it’s really the case of asking the arsonist to rebuild the home, could be a stroke of genius that gets the Democratic base even more excited and could reap massive dollars for the Democrats’ war chest for 2018. It could also be a sign of desperation. Moreover, Obama and Hillary Clinton, who started her own super PAC that will soon be geared towards the 2018 elections, also animate the GOP base. Throw in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who contributed to Jon Ossoff’s defeat in Georgia, and this could be another sad year for the Left. Obama, Clinton, and Pelosi are looking to nullify the 2016 election. That would be the sentiment among GOP voters and it could be strong enough for even the most recalcitrant Republican voter in the Trump era to vote against the Democrats. So, by all means, Democrats—work with the man who sowed the seeds of your ruin.
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