It’s certainly a familiar scene to Americans, and one that brings forth nostalgia of a previous political fervor that seems so long ago; Barrack Obama rallying Democrats of all affinities and affiliations to his banner. The message? Take it back.
It’s undeniable that former two-term president Obama is still a star among his political party; With his very presence drawing crowds and, the DNC hopes, reinvigorating a Democratic Party that has objectively had a tough time of it in the years following his departure from office.
Considering his popularity, it’s an arguably solid strategy.
Obama’s star power is hard to ignore, with people traveling across state lines for a chance to see him speak, one of his greatest strengths. Recent polling has even found him to be regarded by the public as one of the best Presidents of their lifetimes, ranking with the likes of Clinton and Reagan.
With Bill Clinton clearly not at his best, and certainly past his political prime, Obama seems to be the best card the DNC can play. And really that’s the problem Democrats have been facing since Donald Trump stunned them (and party star Hillary Clinton) in an election they’d considered all but won.
With Bernie Sanders supporting social democrats like the now nationally recognized Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shaking up the party base and supplanting longtime Democrat incumbents the DNC has a serious identity crisis to sort out. Compound that with blue collar traditionally unionized labor (for decades the utter core of the Democrat base) abandoning a party that they feel has abandoned them for Trump’s ‘American First’ populism, and the Dems seem to be in trouble.
But faced with a Trump Presidency that looks poised to install 2-4 Supreme Court judges, and after collapsing the electoral ‘blue wall’ in 2016, the Democrats need to win and they need to win now. With nobody in office able to unify the bickering factions Democrats are forced to look to the one man in the past decade who has.
For his part Obama is answering the call, taking to the road to speak across America, albeit not necessarily everywhere, with his legacy far from universally well regarded. He’s taken a ‘tough love’ approach to the party that fought for his 2 terms in the Oval Office telling a DNC fundraiser in LA “If what you are doing requires no sacrifice at all, then you can do more.”
Whether the strategy will work is up for debate. Obama is popular, but he widely politicized the 2016 campaign as a ‘referendum on his legacy’ in speeches meant to inspire support for a race he wasn’t running in, and ultimately one his team lost. And while Trump and the Republicans are far from as popular as they were in 2016 as the party of change, Democrats aren’t doing too hot either.
Ultimately, repeatedly having to turn to Obama, and their past, signals a lack of a cohesive future for the Democrat party. As the DNC looks to ‘take it back’ from the GOP hoping to gain the House, and thus a strongpoint to take on Trump from, one has to wonder how much longer they can run on a platform that mainly appears to be ‘not the Republicans’ pushed by a man not running for any offices.