Thursday, December 8, 2016

Obama Legacy is Gone

There was likely more shock on Election Night at the White House than the newsroom of CNN and probably as much horror as in the Clinton Peninsula Hotel room.

Much of the Obama legacy will shortly be gone. He thought his unprecedented campaigning for Hillary Clinton would ensure its survival, but having the most votes wasn’t enough, having the most policy papers and solutions was irrelevant, and being the “party of the ascendant” was a mirage. A sufficient number of people wanted to just burn it down to give Donald Trump a 100,000-vote victory in the only three states that mattered in 2016: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

A quick review of the Cabinet picks and the policy agenda shows how dramatically Obama’s policy legacy joins his Democratic Party legacy. The party is at lows that predate the 1930s and the Roosevelt era. The party can hope to recover, but it is unlikely to save Obama’s agenda. Recall the administration’s shift to using federal agencies (power plant EPA standards, waters of the U.S. rule), foreign policy (China global warming agreement) and executive discretion (Keystone Pipeline, deportations) was implemented to circumvent a resistant Congress and to fulfill Obama’s unrealized second term agenda and create a legacy. That fragile legacy built on executive authority and defended by a weak party will soon be gone.

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