“Democrats Badly Need Barack Obama” In 2018; Party Insiders Long For Former Leader's Return
“Help us Barack Obama, you’re our only hope,” is the call from The Left.
As Democrats’ struggle to find a new champion to lead them in next year’s battle to wrestle back control of the Senate and possibly the House – otherwise known as the 2018 midterms – party insiders are quietly hoping that the former president will step up and play a leading role in stumping for embattled Democratic candidates across the country, according to the Hill.
Since leaving the White House, the former president has been reticent about his plans for the future, though he has occasionally broken his silence to lob a critical tweet or two at his successor. Recently, one of Obama’s tweets, which depicted him smiling at three ethnically mixed toddlers above the message that read “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion,” became the most popular tweet of all time.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
The party’s enthusiasm for its former leader is at odds with the president’s desire to remain on the sidelines and allow the next generation of party talent to takeover. Though judging by Democrats’ performance since the beginning of the Trump era, it appears they have a pretty shallow bench.
Here’s the Hill:
“Democrats are already nostalgic for Obama as they battle against President Trump’s agenda. When he talks, they listen, as evidenced this week by a tweet from Obama about Charlottesville that became the most popular in the history of the platform.
The tricky question now facing the party is how much should it rely on the former president to boost candidates’ profile in 2018.
“Some Democrats are pushing for Obama to have a more elevated role, but the president has made clear he is wary of sliding back into the role of party leader, which could preve nt new leaders from emerging.”
But given the party’s waning popularity – recent polls show Democrats are even less popular with the American public than Republicans – it doesn’t look like they have much choice. Without their greatest political asset, the party will likely be doomed to another embarrassing defeat.
“Democrats badly need Barack Obama,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “He offers such a vivid contrast to Trump in behavior and temperament.”
“He always sounded reasonable and acted responsibly even if you disagreed with him,” Bannon continued. “None of the potential Democratic presidential candidates have the visibility or credibility to be effective.”
Another strategist said it’s “unconscionable” how little Obama has done to help the Democrats since President Trump’s upset victory in November.
“Brent Budowsky, a former Democratic aide and columnist for The Hill, said Obama “should play a far more aggressive role, starting today, to win back the House and Senate in 2018.”
“America faces an enormous political crisis and it is unconscionable how little Obama and other former top officials have done to help Democrats since Trump began his ugly abuses of power.”
Still, others argue that it wouldn’t be wise to push Obama into the role of Trump’s “sparring partner,” and that when campaigning begins, the former president should play an important but “understated” role to help give the next round of party leaders some room to develop.
“Democratic strategist Christy Setzer agreed, saying while the Democratic nostalgia is “deep and real,” it isn’t wise to have Obama become Trump’s sparring partner.
“For Democrats, never has the contrast been stronger between what we just gave up and what we have now,” Setzer said.
But she added that for potential 2020 candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) or Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to truly move into the political spotlight, “Obama has to remain in the shadows.”
While Democrats may be in a different place a year from now, she added, ‘right now, we’re still trying to figure out who the next leaders of the party are. Until that’s more clear, Obama can’t be as prominent.’”
To be sure, Obama has already been involved in fundraising for the party, and is expected to begin campaigning in the fall, according to the Hill. The broader question is, should the Democrats fail to find a new champion by the midterms, will desperate Dems turn to Michelle Obama, who already polls higher than many of the party’s other most prominent figures?