The Democratic Party has changed over the last few elections, and that change may be the main culprit in its stunning defeat in 2016. The party’s shift from an FDR-style concern for the common man to racial divisiveness and gender ideology alienated an enormous number of Americans throughout the country, including about one million people who cast a vote for Barack Obama in both elections. This isn’t a matter of racism or bigotry or “whitelash,” it’s a matter of once-solid Democrats being left behind by their party.
Also left behind by the Democratic Party is former Senator Jim Webb, one of the major candidates for the Democratic nomination in the recent election. Webb said it best on the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” last week: white working people have become the “whipping posts” of a Democratic Party that has moved into interest-group politics, and so they obviously don’t think that the Democrats like them.
This seems like an obvious point in hindsight. Even the culturally liberal commentariat has taken this as a given – Donald Trump’s surprise victory has removed doubt in the minds of all but the most delusional ideologues.
But Webb has been talking about this suddenly incontrovertible fact for years. In August 2015, When Donald Trump’s candidacy was still considered a joke by the media, the former Senator made prophetically stated that “the Democratic Party needs to get back to basics” to appeal to the white lower and middle classes. Tens of millions of dollars in strategists and algorithms couldn’t drive this simple fact home in the Hillary campaign.
Webb, a Vietnam war hero who served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, is no DINO, though, even though he is a former Republican. He has long had a socially progressive message that was as prescient as his take on the 2016 election. From the start of his tenure as a U.S. senator from Virginia in 2007, he fought against mass incarceration before most politically connected people had even heard of the term “criminal justice reform,” holding hearings on the costs of our nation’s drug enforcement policies. Even though conventional wisdom within both parties was to be “tough on crime,” Webb introduced legislation in 2009 that would cause first comprehensive review of the nation’s crime policy in 45 years. The legislation was doomed, but the senator’s tireless fighting sparked a national conversation about how the US has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners despite having only 5 percent of the population. President Obama didn’t even mention the issue until 2015.
President Obama was, however, early to the game of Democrats being A-Okay with the executive’s unilateral use of military force. The left’s narrative had a strange shift away from belief that Congress needs to authorize war as soon as President Obama took power.
Jim Webb is a different story. He opposed the disastrous 2011 intervention in Libya, introducing a resolution to require the White House to seek approval from Congress before continuing the mission. The pitch fell on deaf ears, but he was right – Libya went from being a stable country to a nation that is torn apart by war and breeding terrorism.
Webb spoke out against arming rebel groups who ended up joining ISIS. He was the first member of congress to note the gathering storm of territorial disputes over the South China Sea and recommend a firmer stance by the U.S., years before China violate international law by building artificial islands there to expand their dominion.
But perhaps the most cogent of Webb’s criticisms was his opposition to the War in Iraq. Back in 2002, when the invasion was just a hypothetical, Webb said, “Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years?” Now such pragmatic opposition to the war seems to be common sense within both parties. It should be clear why he was a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees; he was the most knowledgeable member of the senate when it came to those matters.
Webb beat everyone to the punch when it comes to veterans, too. In 2008, he introduced and got passed the landmark “New GI Bill of Rights,” a feat unheard of for a junior senator. In the following elections, it – strangely enough – became cool to talk big about helping those who have served.
Where your average politician has hindsight, Jim Webb had foresight first. He’s been dead-on every single time for the last 15 years. Jim Webb needs to be our next secretary of state because there just isn’t anyone that comes close in terms of wisdom and experience.
Robert Mariani is the opinion editor at The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter.