On November 8th, a sneaking suspicion became reality.
Forget Hillary Clinton, because it’s possible that she came as close to winning the presidency as any Democrat could have in 2016. The truth is that when you take California out of the equation, Clinton – and Democrats – lost big this year. Her slimy reputation didn’t help matters, but the larger truth is this: Were it not for Barack Obama, there’s a good chance that Republicans would be gearing up for their fifth straight turn in the White House. The Democratic Party simply doesn’t do it for the majority of the country.
For the last eight years, they’ve enjoyed a somewhat illusory type of political dominance. But when you take Obama’s two White House wins out of the equation, you can see how threadbare that illusion really was. According to the Associated Press, Democrats lost more than 1,000 seats during the Obama years. State legislatures, governorships, and Congressional seats flowed consistently to the GOP.
The American people didn’t like Obama or his policies; they simply liked the cool black dude at the top of the ticket.
Isn’t it obvious? The Democrats just got slaughtered in the 2016 election at every conceivable level and yet, President Obama’s approval ratings are higher than ever. What can explain this? And you can’t just say, “Well, Hillary…” because this has been a trend throughout the man’s entire presidency.
In fact, it’s a trend that goes back even further. Democrats can only win when they have a charismatic superstar at the top of the ticket. When they run a Walter Mondale or a Michael Dukakis or an Al Gore or a John Kerry or a Hillary Clinton, they fall on their faces. They only succeed with a JFK, a Bill Clinton, or a Barack Obama. They have to emphasize the sizzle because the steak itself is spoiled. Jimmy Carter is the sole exception, and he had the Nixon scandal to campaign against.
One of the main reasons Democrats are so mad this year is that Republicans actually beat them at their own game. For the first time since Ronald Reagan, the GOP nominated their own superstar for the presidency, making it even harder for Democrats to push their bland candidate over the top. Even if Hillary came with an unassailable record of good governance, she would have found it very difficult to compete with the patriotic electricity of the Trump phenomenon.
It’s a little depressing to realize how much of our political direction is determined by the cult of personality, but it doesn’t do any good to complain about it. Instead, we need to use it to our advantage and realize that Democrats are only dangerous when they have a TV-ready slickster as their candidate. When they have to sell liberalism on its own merits…no one buys it.