Friday, July 29, 2016

Obama is the Democratic Reagan

It's what he's aspired to do from the time he was candidate Obama. This focus of Obama on Reagan has predictably garnered him criticism on the Left.

The Left is only ever interested in criticism of Democrats of course. It surely criticized the real Reagan less than Obama's aspiration to be the Democratic Reagan.

Look. I was never a fan of Reagan by any stretch. 1980 was my first real election-I was 9-and it took his blowout of Jimmy Carter very personally. Joy Reid talks about being a little girl in 1980 and how her and her sister cried after Carter's loss.

I can relate.

But what Obama has admired about Reagan is not content but formal. He admires the aesthetic success of Reaganism and his goal has been to employ the Reagan political aesthetic to liberal Democratic ends.

And we saw Obama's narrative in its full gestation on Wednesday night. He has tranformed the Dems into the party of optimism and hope as the GOP has taken on the mantle of Trump's dystopian vision.

This to the chagrin of a number of conservatives and Republicans.

Conservative writer Ron Fournier:

"Well done, @realDonaldTrump. You made Democrats a party of sunny patriotism and values.

You sure @billclinton didn't ask you to run?"

— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) July 29, 2016

National Review editor Jonah Goldberg:

"Why this convention is better: It's about loving America. GOP convention was about loving Trump. If you didn't love Trump, it offered nada."

— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 29, 2016

John Podhoretz, former Ronald Reagan speech writer and Commentary editor:

"Take about five paragraphs out of that Obama speech and it could have been a Reagan speech. Trust me. I know."

— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) July 28, 2016

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld:

"if repubs had championed their principles with specifics rather than embrace autocracy - they wouldn't have yielded this turf to dems."

— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) July 29, 2016

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson:

"For Republicans who are not social conservatives, I have to imagine last night and tonight at the DNC are having an impact on them."

— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 29, 2016

Again in saying Obama is the Democratic Reagan is not to say that Obama is a Republican who agreed with Reagan on principles. But he's doing for Dems what Reagan did for the GOP.

The only way to truly be a transformational President, though, is to elect your successor as Reagan did accomplish. Here is the importance of Hillary Clinton's election.

Reagan got that with the election of Bush Sr. True Bush lost his re-election but this was still enough for Reaganism to have transformed our politics. Bill Clinton did win but he still had to govern within the contours of Reaganism.

Not until Obama have Democrats actually been able to challenge those contours.

As Jamelle Bouie notes, the Dems are the party of optimism now but Dem optimism is different than the GOP variety.

"Bright Shining as the Sun."

{Infused with the spirit of the black church, the Democrats became the party of optimism."

"It was the startling fact of this entire convention. On Monday alone there was Michelle Obama and her forceful defense of America’s “greatness” and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s attempt to raise his profile with a soaring national speech. All week long, if you craved a message of optimism, your best bet was a brown or black face. But that makes sense. Despite deep problems of discrimination and racial inequality, it’s nonwhites—blacks, Hispanics, and other groups—who have the most optimistic view of the United States and its future. For them, the country is closer than not to its self-conception as a city on the hill, and for good reason. If you’re black, if you’re Latino, if you’re gay—life is unquestionably better now than it was in the past."

"In the hands and mouths of underrepresented groups, these symbols of patriotism and national pride took on new meaning. This wasn’t a crude jingoism. It was an expression of pluralistic nationalism and deep civic pride, a progressive patriotism that acknowledges the nation’s failures but strives to overcome them."

"What is remarkable is the extent to which this kind of patriotism—and much of the mood surrounding the convention—is rooted in black traditions of political and religious rhetoric. In ways small and large, the lifeblood of the Democratic National Convention was the black church. You saw this, in a literal way, with the stream of black politicians and black religious leaders who took the stage. The Rev. William Barber, the North Carolina preacher and head of his state’s NAACP who founded the “Moral Mondays” movement, gave a speech that was emblematic of the language on display, a language and cadence drawn from the traditions of the black church. “Now, my friends, they tell me that when the heart is in danger, somebody has to call an emergency code, and somebody with a good heart will bring a defibrillator to work on the bad heart,” said Barber in his thundering address. “[W]e are being called like our foremothers and fathers to be the moral defibrillators of our time. We must shock this nation with the power of love. We must shock this nation with the power of mercy. We must shock this nation and fight for justice for all.”

Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver kept up this theme of defiant optimism in his peroration on Thursday. “They threw her down as the first lady, but she didn’t stay throwed!” he bellowed, referring to Hillary Clinton. “They threw her down as a U.S. senator, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down as a secretary of state, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down in this very campaign—this campaign—but she won’t stay throwed! No, she ain’t gonna stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed!”

"It has become commonplace to say that the Democrats presented an uplifting view of the United States to contrast with the darkness of the last week’s Republican National Convention. It is tempting, even, to invoke Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America,” especially since Clinton used the phrase in her speech. But pay attention to the tenor of this optimism, to the rhythms of its expression. It isn’t the self-satisfaction of Reagan, champion of the status quo. It is hard-won hope, an optimism born of struggle. It’s the “Mothers of the Movement,” whose grief fuels hopeful activism. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and urging you to say their names,” said Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, who was slain in 2012. “We’re going to keep building a future where police officers and communities of color work together in mutual respect to keep children, like Jordan, safe.” It’s the difference between Reagan’s eternal lights “in this springtime of hope” and Maya Angelou’s “still I rise,” one of the refrains of this week."

"This progressive patriotism wasn’t just a cudgel to use on Donald Trump, whose solipsism and fearmongering have exposed him to a Democratic attack on the basis of values and temperament. It was part of the bedrock of the argument against Trump and Trumpism—that he and his cause were fundamentally un-American, that electing him would deal an irreparable blow to the bonds of multicultural democracy."

"And so we have Monday’s speech from Michelle Obama, which stands as a paean to that conception of democracy. We have Wednesday’s speech from Barack Obama, in which the president made a vigorous defense of American pluralism. “Fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies, the usual debates between left and right,” said Obama, emphasizing the extent to which he views Trump as a threat to America’s democratic traditions. “This is a more fundamental choice—about who we are as a people and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.”

"And we had Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, which continued this theme of pluralism and patriotism and reinforced the idea that this election, more than anything, was a fight for democracy. “Remember: Our founders fought a revolution and wrote a Constitution so America would never be a nation where one person had all the power,” Clinton said. “Two hundred and forty years later, we still put our faith in each other.”

I won't quote all of it but all of it's worth reading.

Eugene Robinson notices the same thing.

For a change, it’s the Democrats channeling Reagan."

This is not accidental. This has been Obama's gambit since his rise 12 years ago.

It's a wager on an America that is better than Trumpism, that will never vote for Trumpism, not now, not ever.

This optimism is giving the Dems a chance to achieve a very favorable realignment. 

"But, because of Trump’s uniquely troubling temperament and his explicitly xenophobic campaign, there is space here for Clinton to both reaffirm the party’s commitment to American values of pluralism and tolerance while simultaneously becoming the candidate of unity and stability. This Clinton attempted at great length, ripping into Trump’s vow to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, his promise of a Great Trumpian Wall on the southern border, and his authoritarianism, all of which were cast as a threat to the American experiment. She also tore into his ignorance of world affairs and temperamental volatility: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

Chuck Schumer talks about it here.

"Chuck Schumer is feeling good enough about the battle for Senate control to essentially predict he’ll be majority leader next year. Not only that, the veteran New York Democrat believes his party is on the cusp of something much bigger: An era of electoral dominance."

“We’re going to have a Democratic generation. [President Barack Obama] helped create it. But it’s just where America’s moving demographically, ideologically and in every way,” Schumer told POLITICO in a lengthy interview this week at the Democratic National Convention. “We’ll have a mandate to get something done.”

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