From Bare, Ruined Choirs in Commentary magazine (last November):
The collapse of the Democratic Party under Barack Obama occurred in three stages.
From Inauguration Day in 2009 until July 2010, the Obama White House oversaw the passage of 1) the stimulus package, the most expensive piece of legislation in American history; 2) the second half of the TARP-TALF financial-bailout bill; 3) the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reforms; and 4) the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Not since 1933 had there been a more aggressive legislative and regulatory agenda, and Obama’s determined march not only featured $2.7 trillion in new spending but the wholesale revision of the nation’s health-care system.
It was too much, too fast, too soon, and there was a national uprising against it that came to be known as the “Tea Party.”
In all, nine Democratic senators were axed in 2014, the largest swing since the Ronald Reagan election in 1980. What had happened to cause it? A year earlier, in October 2013, Obamacare had been rolled out—and computer systems and software costing $1 billion crashed and crashed hard. ISIS flowered malignantly in Syria and Iraq and began beheading Americans. There was a border crisis as thousands of children from Mexico and Central America made their way into the United States and were put up in makeshift housing. Republicans won by nationalizing their Senate races…
One might say that it began, oddly enough, with Obama’s 2012 victory. He got his second term, yes, but for the first time in presidential history, received fewer votes in getting reelected than he had in his first run. … A considerable part of it is in areas of the country where the Obama administration literally targeted heavy industries both venerable and brand-new—coal and fracking. Obama has spent his presidency favoring the environmentalist cause, which is popular with what the pollster Stanley Greenberg and the consultant James Carville called “the new progressive common ground,” over the continuing employment of the white working class in good-paying jobs. Obama and Clinton—who told an audience earlier this year with some pride that “we are going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”—were choosing not to expand the Democratic electoral coalition by bringing people with different interests together but to contract it ideologically. He and Clinton could do this, they believed, because a new and massive electoral coalition was taking the place of the old—one made up, in Greenberg’s words, of “young people, Hispanics, unmarried women, and affluent suburbanites.”
This is an example of the way in which Barack Obama sought to provide the left with a sense of cultural and moral superiority. He and they were working to be saviors of the planet, just as they were working to push America forward into a new ethical framework in which traditional morality was an evil to be overcome and new modes of being were not only to be embraced but to be forced upon resistant small-town birthday-cake bakers. Those who bought into it achieved a kind of blind triumphalism. They pooh-poohed any warning signs that the transition to Obama’s brave new world was creating new social fissures. Their unending political dominance was now a matter of demographic inevitability, as celestially mechanical as the monthly lunar cycle. Nothing could shake this conviction, even as they suffered through Stage One and were rocked by Stage Two. That “progressive common ground” just wasn’t common enough, it turns out. Its numbers weren’t quite large enough yet.
And even more important, it just wasn’t as motivated by a commitment to the progressive agenda as Obama and Clinton thought. … it turns out what had truly mattered to the “coalition of the ascendant” was Barack Hussein Obama himself, and how he had made them feel about themselves back in 2008. It was summoned into existence by the idea of a President Obama, not by what he would do.
(T)he farm system of elected officials shrank over the course of the Obama era to a single minor-league team of coastal and urban politicians. The result is a Democratic Party even more doctrinaire in its cultural, social, and political attitudes. Gone is the pro-life Democrat, the gun-rights Democrat, the Democratic hawk, the Democrat who supported the traditional definition of marriage, the Democrat concerned with religious liberty at home—and good riddance to them, in the eyes of those who remain. J
The Obama years weren’t only a disappointment to those of us who did not drink the Kool Aid in the first place; they proved to be a disappointment to the very people Obama had celebrated by declaring that “we are the change we have been waiting for.” And they have been a calamity for Democrats everywhere but in the urban and coastal strongholds…