For a Party (and their voters) who condemn Trump and his following for bringing Obama’s legacy up, the Democrats seem to have no problem doing just that in an effort to tear each other apart. But is Obama’s legacy untouchable? Discussing the history of the Democratic Party, especially the failings of Obama and Clinton – one of many factors that contributed to people swinging to Trump – should be up for discussion.
Let’s start off by saying that there is a distinction between bringing up Obama and Clinton as a deflection for Trump’s wrongdoing and talking about them in the context of the failings of the Democrats. Obama’s eight years in office are not sacred and must be addressed as they were – a continuation of the neoliberal, corporate-obsessed agenda, and the expansion of US imperialism around the world. He was a charismatic, likeable face sprawled over some of the darkest moments in recent history.
Internationally, the US under Obama was nothing short of horrifying:
- Drone warfare was introduced and used against ‘suspected’ targets;
- The NSA leaks under Snowden reveal the extent of US spy operation on people across the globe, powers that were expanded under Obama;
- Libya’s government was overthrown, sending the country into chaos that continues today;
- Honduras’ government was overthrown and still has a dictator (one of the catalysts for the current refugee wave coming up through Central America);
- The war in Syria began in 2011, continuing to this day;
- Close ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – the invasion of Yemen;
- Fully supportive of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine, entering office at the end of Operation Cast Lead and overseeing Operations Pillar of Defence and Protective Edge;
- Oversaw the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, and curried favour with the dictator el-Sisi;
- Refused deals with North Korea and China to move towards peace on the Korean Peninsula by removing US troops for nuclear disarmament;
- Continuing proxy wars with Russia, including the slow expansion of NATO to the Russian border;
- Leaving a power vacuum in Iraq that led to the rise of ISIS, leaving a US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan;
- Iran… I guess Obama was kind of trying to get somewhere with Iran, slowly?
You get the idea – I may have missed some things, that’s just a list off the top of my head. Domestically, what did Obama do for the US people? Well, he was black, that’s something. He legalised gay marriage. Obamacare, right, the… still incredibly shit healthcare system that earned such an endearing nickname solely for PR purposes – yeah I’m a cynic, get a better goddamn healthcare system you barbarians.
Truthfully, Obama promised the world and many liberals believed him – and still do, protecting his legacy from any criticism, even completely valid ones – but offered nothing. Hope and change was just a slogan, one masterfully picked up by the Trump campaign, just with more terrifying implications. Obama was just another corporate hack and vicious imperialist like his predecessor. Really, what is Trump doing now that is ‘different’?
Trump as a person is, obviously, awful in every way compared to Obama, but the policies aren’t exactly unexpected or divergent, if a little more blatant. Except on social issues (like abortion and LGBT+ rights, for example) and the environment – domestically, not internationally – we aren’t exactly treading new ground. Every US President for decades has done this, just not in such a transparently evil and baffling way.
When 2016 came in and there was a choice between the same old thing or the hope of change, what did the Democrats do? Absolutely destroyed the chances of the only possible candidate choice to prop up yet another corporate hack – this time a woman – paving the way for the only other candidate offering change. They shafted Sanders and got smacked, hard, by Trump.
So yes, the Democrats should be discussing Obama’s legacy – the bloody, dull legacy of a man who said all the right words to appease the masses for a few years and make them feel progressive. And they should also be discussing Clinton and why her campaign failed – and not just screaming about Russia because it’s fashionable, but actually why. There’s a divide in the Democratic Party, and so there should be. The Pelosi’s and Biden’s of the world have nothing to offer the people who feel so disenfranchised that they’d rather vote for Trump and just see what happens.
Your Sanders, Warren’s, the “Squad” of young congresswomen – these are the people who can revitalise the Democratic Party and make it a force to be reckoned with against corporate hegemony and Trump. This is more than simply voting a certain way, it’s about completely reshaping US politics.
Let’s just hope we survive long enough to see it happen.