The Orange County Register
Barack Obama came to office with a promise of “fundamentally transforming the United States.” Through what one admirer calls “a profound course correction engineered by relentless government activism,” Obama has, indeed, transformed the country and shifted it to what now passes for the Left agenda on America’s role in the world, the environment, gender issues, labor rights and untrammeled executive power over both Congress and local governments.
As he leaves office, Obama is already being consecrated as a great president whose direction will naturally be followed by his successor. Given his greater popularity – his rankings have been rising for months – the far less popular Hillary Clinton’s pitch will be to portray herself as something like “Obama-plus.” The transformation is about to hit its peak.
This progressive triumph is occurring despite mediocre economic growth, rising inequality and diminished global status. But it’s a record that can’t be successfully challenged by a GOP that has seen fit to nominate such a noxious candidate. With Trump at the top of the ticket, the Republican Party could also lose the Senate, and thus the Supreme Court, losing the last restraints on “the full monty” of the progressive agenda.
Trump’s ugly presence is sure to swell the Democratic base – minorities, millennials, unmarried women, highly educated professionals – even as the unstable billionaire captures a larger share of older, working-class, white voters. Hillary, as the American Prospect has argued, inherits a party dedicated to microtargeting its voter base, rather than seeking to reach out to a perceived dying white suburban and small-town middle America. Harold Meyerson, the incisive editor of the Prospect, calls this “the first post-middle-class election.”
A diminished white middle class is OK for a Democratic Party made up of college-for-free “Bernie bros,” urban hipsters, greens, racial minorities, feminists, public employees and gay activists. These groups won’t really challenge the real winners of the Obama years – the Wall Street and Silicon Valley oligarchs, who are willing to genuflect to the green and social agenda of the party, but can be even more sure, under the many-times-purchased Hillary, that their path to unreasonable, even dangerous, wealth and power will continue unimpeded.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, will be published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.
Barack Obama photo by Bigstock.