If anyone has a doubt, by now it should be obvious that I loved having President Obama in the White House. He carried himself with dignity and grace. He was deliberative and thoughtful, as well as generally kind and moral. Whether you agree with that opinion of him or not is not the point. It is my opinion. It doesn’t have to be yours.
That said, if go back to the election, to the period before Trump, we can see in Obama today one of the problems that the Democratic Party had then, and continues to have. The Presidency used to be an end in itself. For the last twenty or thirty years, it’s been seen as a stepping stone to a loftier goal… getting rich. Today, Obama will make more money for one speech than he made for a year of his Presidency! More to the point, though, he made 26,000 times per hour more than your average person — if your average person were making $15.00 per hour (and, of course, they’re not).
If there are two parties, and the Republicans have firmly established themseleves as the Party of the Rich, and Democrats do the same thing, who speaks for the non-rich? Who understands 99% of the population? Who speaks for the very, very poor? Who speaks for the ill, the hungry, the less educated? No one. Who speaks for the vaunted Middle Class? No one. It’s easy to picture the government as “elites” if they are! It’s easy to paint them as “out of touch” with real life if they make more in a day than a small city! What part of that makes people feel like the government understands them and wants their opinion? Not much.
There are at least two other problems here:
1) How can we say to people that civil service — leadership for the sake of others — is valuable if it’s not the pinnacle of a career? How can we say that service is more important than wealth if our highest civil servants still chase money. Is their pension and benefits not enough to live on? Why not?
2) If “majority rules” is the principle of how democracy works, and your Party isn’t attached to 99% of them, how will you ever become the majority Party? That’s a lot of people to ignore. They are just there for the taking because nobody else wants them. Any Bozo who can pretend they care about them can become President! See how that works? Can you imagine a way in which that might not work for the Party?
Democrats have to understand the “non-rich” 99% in order to align with them. It helps if they are the non-rich. It helps if you care, simply because caring is the right thing for a leader to do. Until you we can find someone who leads this way, democracy will fail, and the Democratic Party long before that. Maybe we have somebody like that? Bernie? Elizabeth Warren? Even if not, that’s the direction we need to head if we want to have a functioning democracy — and a healthy Party.
Resisting with peace,