By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Here, however, the comparisons with 1980 perilously begin to diverge. When the New Deal era collapsed, the Reaganites were fully loaded and ready to boldly step in. But who’s ready this time to fill the void? Did I miss something, or have Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid quietly, patiently and methodically been building a movement over the last 20 years that is ready — from Day One, as has become the cliché — to reinvent and resurrect American politics on the ashes of the failed conservative movement? Let’s face it, the Democrats performed shamefully at the onset of the Bush administration, its congressional leadership more or less meekly folding itself into the president’s war cabinet. The 2004 Kerry campaign was a political shambles. And as late as 2006, the Democrats won back Congress almost exclusively because they were not the Republicans. That victory had sweet little to do with any proactive moves by the Dems.
Does anyone seriously think the Democratic establishment is really prepared to govern effectively, as the global economic crisis deepens (as it surely will)? Have we forgotten that it was Democratic president Bill Clinton who signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which obliterated the financial regulatory framework built by FDR? These were the special babies of former-maestro-turned-stumblebum Alan Greenspan, which were backed by the same Robert Rubin and Larry Summers still held in great esteem on the Democratic economics bench. From where will the Democrats summon the courage, in fact, to spread the wealth back downward, offering not only tangible relief but also real opportunity to millions who will have no health care, perhaps no job and no longer a home of their own the same day the new president is sworn in? How much faith — not hope — do you have that four years from now, that there still won’t be 50 million Americans enjoying the basic right to minimal medical coverage?
Just hours away from this election, that’s what I’m worried about. Not about swing voters in Missouri or the Bradley effect in Ohio. I’m worried about the lack of a forward-looking governing vision by the party now coming to dominate all three branches of the government at a time when history demands, excuse the term, some very radical rethinking.
Much of Barack Obama’s appeal derives directly from his willingness to directly confront his own party apparatus, embodied in the ruthless and extralubricated Clinton machine. The determination, the steadiness, the intelligence, the sheer will he and his campaign demonstrated in defeating Billary and winning the nomination was nothing short of exhilarating. The first time I met Obama, in early 2007 at a little-noticed campaign event in Las Vegas, I immediately sensed the sort of cool, charismatic magic that has subsequently moved tens of millions into his ranks.
No, as he noted in jest a few weeks ago, Obama wasn’t born in a manger. He’s not the messiah. He does rely, for sure, on many of the same party hacks who have misled the Democratic Party during its sojourn in the political wilderness. Yet, he not only will inherit a historic opportunity to bring the sort of dramatic change he has promised, but he will also be faced with an awesome and powerful demand to do so if he values his political survival. Obama will not leave his mark on history by simply “reaching across the aisle” and empaneling a bipartisan study commission. For one, there won’t be much of a Republican Party left to connect with. More important, millions of rank-and-file Republicans — and Democrats and Independents and just as many other millions who rarely think of themselves in any political terms — will be anxiously waiting for someone to offer a sort of once-in-a-century leadership. Obama will achieve greatness, and he might even salvage this nation, if he fulfills his potential and becomes a transformative and transcendental president. Four years from now, the less significant it is to be identified as a Republican or a Democrat, the more significant a leader Obama will be. That is my hope.