Regardless of your view on Hillary Clinton, there was ample reason that she was the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate in 2016.
Of course, Bernie Sanders supporters would contest justifiably that, were the playing field not skewed nefariously in her favor, she wouldn’t have been the nominee. But, the fact remains that Clinton has done wonders for the DNC’s funding, and another undeniable reality factored into her eventual status as presidential nominee.
The Democratic Party really didn’t have many better options.
Now, the party’s best shot at winning the next presidential election appears to be riding on a soon-to-be 80-year-old socialist. And, in the view of at least one Democratic strategist, this isn’t a recipe for success. Unless he plans on running for president once again – that seems extremely unlikely, and even that would be no guaranteed victory – the party will remain bereft of a clear-cut leader with a significant chance to move into the White House.
A report in The Hill has painted a picture of a party with a crisis of leadership. Even with the recently reported return of Barack Obama from a political hiatus, his efforts alone (fundraising or otherwise) likely will not be enough to catapult the party back to national prominence in 2020.
“There’s f---ing no one else,” one frustrated Democratic strategist said. “Bill Clinton is toxic, [former President] Carter is too old, and there’s no one else around for miles.” (The Hill)
The DNC strategist laments the fact that Obama hasn’t been more active in politics since his presidency ended not even two years ago. The fact that the party is apparently so reliant on a former president – who apparently can’t even take a couple years off – is a signal of an unsustainable level of dependency on a former icon. It’s also an indictment of the fact that the Democrat Party, as it currently stands has no clear or coherent policy strategy.
“He’s been way too quiet,” said one longtime Obama bundler who rarely criticizes the former president. “There are a lot of people who think he’s played too little a role or almost no role in endorsing or fundraising and he’s done jack shit in getting people to donate to the party.”
No charismatic leaders with national cache and no clear policy platform is no way to start an election cycle.
Is the lingering association with Barack Obama really enough to propel a Joe Biden presidential bid?
Is anyone really getting excited by the prospect of voting for Elizabeth Warren?
On both counts, the likely answer is ‘no’.
With a dearth of serious candidates, the continuing infatuation with Obama’s influence on the party is concerning in and of itself.
“You have all these people running for office, some of them against other Democrats, and his strategy has been to not endorse anyone and that’s what’s been so f---ing ridiculous because not only are you not helping them, you’re hurting them,” said the bundler, who argued that candidates should be free to reflect their districts and not be pushed to political extremes that might make winning the general election more difficult. (The Hill)
Keep in mind that this source is reportedly a Democratic strategist. If your strategy as a party is to look to the past for leadership, then you know you’re in trouble.
It seems as if the furor over everything that Donald Trump does has, for the moment, subsided a bit. The Singapore Summit was nearly impossible to criticize, the economy remains strong, and the Stormy Daniels controversy appears to be all but dead.
The president’s prospects for winning once again in 2020 seem stronger than they’ve been at any point during his tenure, and that’s due in no small part due to an utter lack of serious competition. If Trump hate isn’t enough to cause a Blue Wave in 2020, where will the party go?
One defeat at the hands of a President who has created more controversy and hysteria than any in modern history didn’t seem to serve as motivation for serious self-reflection by a political party at a crossroads.
If a second defeat in 2020 happens, the time for reflection may well be over. Party leadership is aging, and serious contenders to take hold of the torch have not emerged. It’s not time to sound the death knell on the Democratic Party, but it’s more than fair to wonder, as one DNC strategist has, who in the world will be the face of the party in 2020 and beyond.