Republicans Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan are looking forward to undoing all of President Obama's accomplishments - not only because they disagree with the legislation he backed and the executive orders he signed, but because they want his legacy, and his presidency, to be wiped from the history books.
President Obama's response? "We are now all rooting for [Donald Trump's] success in uniting and leading the country." Wow.
Yes, President Obama is rooting for his legacy to be wiped away by his enemies. He's rooting for Donald Trump to undo everything he did (which, truth-be-told, wasn't much), and lead the country towards more trickle-down economics, towards anger, hatred, and fear. This is typical Obama: Wimpy, no fight, a man who sounds fiery on the campaign trail (to get votes) and then submissively confers with Wall Street about the proper way to run the country. A man who made almost no use of the bully pulpit because, if Wall Street was happy then he was happy - and Wall Street has been very happy lately: with their bailouts; with the fines they received (instead of criminal prosecutions); and with the return of the stock market. And, as long as the campaign donations were rolling into the Democratic Party, Obama probably figured, why rock the boat from the bully pulpit? Why stir the pot with criminal prosecutions of white collar criminals, our donors?
Obama also said of Trump's victory, and the surrender of all three branches of government to right-wing extremists, "That's the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we're right and then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena, we go at it. We try even harder the next time."
That sort of peaceful resignation is easy for Obama to do - he's an extremely wealthy man. He can weather any storm that is on the horizon. It reminds me of when Obama and Hillary Clinton kept saying, "America is already great." Yes, for them it is. But for those of us who can't find well-paying jobs, it's Hell on Earth. But they don't get it. Insulated by their cushions of great wealth, they look down at everyone else and say, "What's the problem? Everything seems fine from up here."
Obama's legacy is conservatism and, ultimately, failure. He shied away from single-payer health care and the public option, and instead chose a right-wing health care strategy (the Heritage Foundation's individual mandate, or "Romneycare"). And when Republicans crucified him for it, Obama failed to use the bully pulpit to thoroughly explain to Americans that, "hey, this was a Republican idea!" Obama filled his cabinet and his administration with Wall Street-approved, soft-on-White-Collar-Crime, corporate shills. Republicans didn't make him do that. Why didn't he bring aboard Joseph Stiglitz? Or Robert Reich? Or William Black, the tough-on-crime regulator who helped expose many of the financial crimes of the late 1980s? Obama pushed for the deeply unpopular TPP? Why? Because Corporate America wanted it and Obama is a corporate tool. When the idea of a new WPA for unemployed Americans was floated, he was silent. Why? Because rich Americans don't want a new WPA; they'd prefer unemployed Americans to wallow in extreme poverty if they can't find one of the low-paying jobs that the holy "JOB CREATORS" have created for them in the private sector (see "Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans," page 57, table 5). So Obama probably thought, "Well, if my wealthy backers don't like the idea of a WPA, then I guess I don't like the idea either."
Obama kept reaching across the aisle, with conservative ideas and watered-down policies, only to be slapped by conservatives. He did this over and over and over again, never learning, never fighting too hard, always trying to be "the adult in the room." He walked softly and carried a twig. But that isn't how politics works. Politics has always been, and always will be, dirty. You have to fight hard, you have to condemn, you have to throw fire. Obama understood none of this. And now he's rooting for Trump which, I suppose, is an easy thing to do when you're a multi-millionaire who stands to make millions more on the next Goldman Sachs speaking tour... and also when President Trump will be giving you a huge tax cut.
As for the rest of us? President Obama and the Democratic Establishment have set us up for extreme pain and misery, for decades to come (the Supreme Court will be a right-wing tool the rest of our lives). Anyone who isn't wealthy will suffer mightily in the new Tea Party America.
The first casualty will be our health, as Medicaid expansion and federal subsidies will be replaced with "Emergency Room Health Insurance." The political right's free market fetish will put selfish & greedy health insurance executives in charge of our health, once again, and we know what these monsters will do - they'll insure the healthy, and tell the poor and those with pre-existing conditions, "Sorry, no help for you, and don't let the emergency room door hit you on the way out." And Republicans will slavishly obey these CEO's because, to Republicans, the "free market" (which is only as free as the size of your bank account) can do no wrong - "no regulations required," they say, "people are perfect and never harm others." Yes, this is the infantile, idiotic ideology that will govern our lives for the foreseeable future - an ideology based on zero knowledge of history, and zero understanding of the evil people do to each other in the absence of rules.
But don't worry President Obama, don't worry Hillary Clinton, your riches will shield you from the terrors to come, as you stand like ants in FDR's shadow, tranquil and content. You don't need free public college, you don't need health insurance assistance, you don't need jobs, you aren't crushed by debt... everything is fine and dandy from your perch of wealth, "Oh, we lost? Hmm, that's strange. Oh well."
Dear President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Establishment: Go away and don't come back. Go buy a private island (you can certainly afford to) and leave the rest of us alone. We're better off without you. As Thomas Frank recently wrote: "[The Democratic Establishment] is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability. Enough with these comfortable Democrats and their cozy Washington system. Enough with Clintonism and its prideful air of professional-class virtue. Enough!"