The early stages of the Democratic primary have produced few surprises, but one major one has been the denigration of President Barack Obama’s legacy.
On paper, every Democrat should aspire to be the next Obama. The two-term president has a a 95% approval rating among Democratic voters, according to a Pew Research poll taken months after he left office. He is consistently ranked as one of the most admired figures in the world, and successfully moved the overton window in American politics to the left.
Yet, Democrats are running from the ex-president on critical issues such as immigration and healthcare.
Many were stunned when current Democratic presidential candidates appeared to run away from Obama’s legacy during the debates last month. Perhaps this is a byproduct of the front-runner status of Vice President Joe Biden, or maybe it’s the result of a vocal minority within the party who feel that the policies of the Obama administration didn’t go far enough. (RELATED: Associated Press Fact Checks Dems For Blaming Trump For Children In Cages)
“The problem my own party is that they forget at the end of the day there is a general election,” liberal Fox News commentator Leslie Marshall told the Daily Caller. “The majority of Democrats are more moderate, as is most of the country.”
Marshall also praised Biden’s performance in the second Democratic presidential debate, contrasting it with the first debate, when Biden was widely panned for his response to Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, after Harris attacked Biden’s 1970’s positions on school busing. (RELATED: Biden On Kamala Harris: ‘I Thought We Were Friends’)
“I thought he was stronger,” Marshall said. “Everybody on that stage knew Biden was number one. Somebody like Cory Booker was trying to get the Kamala Harris bump in both polling and money.”
Indeed Harris’ attacks on Biden in the first debate proved lucrative for the first term senator, both in polling and fundraising, but in today’s endless campaign cycle, it’s going to take much more than one watershed moment to carry a campaign through to the nomination.
One of the most memorable moments in the last debate came when a protester interrupted the candidates shouting “3 million deportations,” referring to the record number of deportations that occurred under Obama’s watch. Several candidates, including Julian Castro and Cory Booker echoed similar lines of attack, using the Obama administration’s deportation record to attack Biden. Even Obama’s signature healthcare achievement is under fire from the left, with the majority of candidates favoring a major revamp of the healthcare industry under a Medicare for All program, something Biden says will dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“What they are doing is not listening to the people,” Marshall said of the candidates, adding that while Medicare for All polls well, it is not a solution that will ultimately satisfy the needs of Americans.
“What they’re really supporting is a universal plan that allows people to keep their private insurance,” she said of voters.
The healthcare debate in America remains in flux, after Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in full. However the act was decimated when the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” repealed the individual mandate that penalized those who were unable or unwilling to buy health insurance.
Now, the Trump administration is refusing to defend the rest of the law in court, and Democratic White House hopefuls are left to all but admit that Obama’s signature accomplishment resulted in failure.
It’s not just Obamacare that’s been watered down, but most of Obama’s signature accomplishments have been repealed or are currently imperiled. In addition to Obamacare, Dodd-Frank was partially repealed by a large, bipartisan majority in Congress last year. The Iran Deal is long-gone, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) will likely be extinguished by the Supreme Court sometime next Spring.
For an ex-president who left office with high approval ratings, there seems to be little political appetite for the policies Obama pushed while president. It’s a fascinating political phenomenon that suggests that while Americans admire Obama the person, they have a different view of Obama the politician. (RELATED: Health And Human Services Department To Roll Back Obama-Era Transgender Rule)
“Democrats are right to point out the horrendous Obama/Biden legacy,” Trump campaign deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews told the Daily Caller. “Thanks to the Obama/Biden administration healthcare costs skyrocketed because of the failings of Obamacare, America’s position on the world stage weakened, he failed to address a growing crisis at the border, and bad trade deals like TPP sent jobs overseas.”
On the other side, while Trump may have a polarizing personality, Americans may see his policies in a more positive light. (RELATED: How Students For Trump Hopes To Boost The President In 2020)
“During President Trump’s first term he has tackled the previous administration’s failures head on by expanding affordable healthcare options, bringing down the costs of prescription drugs, restoring American leadership abroad, fighting to secure our borders and build the wall, and securing fair trade deals that protect workers, businesses, and support our booming economy,” Matthews said.
The Trump campaign is seizing on the Democratic Party’s left turn, hoping that far-left policy proposals such as Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal will turn off swing voters.
“While we agree with Democrats on the failed Obama/Biden legacy, even former President Obama could not win in today’s socialist Democrat primary,” Trump said.
If 2020 turns into a battle for the soul of the Democratic party, Obama may end up on the losing side, and so will his legacy.