Left is New ‘Moderate’ for Democrats; Republicans Keep to Center
When President Barack Obama first ran for president in 2008, he promised to change America.
And he did. Many Americans feel he made things worse. And those who don’t agree with that assessment still readily admit he did little to make the nation better.
But he has done something during his seven-plus years in office to affect the face of politics. He has continued the trend toward greater liberalism in the Democratic Party that began during the administration of Bill Clinton and has maintained its leftward creep through the candidacies of presidential hopefuls Al Gore and John Kerry.
In fact, Barack Obama is further left, politically, than Bill Clinton, who was stridently left of John F. Kennedy. In fact, many politics watchers today feel Kennedy and the Democrats of that era would be shocked and dismayed by today’s precariously left-leaning party.
On the Republican side, there has been no hard-core political shift. Diversity rules. The number of people in the GOP who’d prefer to call themselves “Conservatives” has increased, as have the legions that support the Tea Party movement. The soaring presence of people like Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate have buttressed the conservative wing, but his inability to gain strong support from fellow members of the Upper Chamber has limited his effectiveness. And his speech at the Republican National Convention in which he refused to endorse Trump has sealed him as the ultimate GOP outsider.
Still, he fought a strong battle for the GOP presidential nomination, and hung in while the other wannabees dropped out, little by little, until only Cruz and presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump stood virtually alone on the battlefield. But then the conservative Texas blew it at the convention.
Trump describes himself as a conservative, but he has arrived a bit late at this conclusion. He has not always espoused a strong conservative platform, though as an entrepreneur and highly successful businessman, he would presumably take not only the Republican road, but the conservative path as well.
During the 13 months of his presidential candidacy, Trump has had to deal with outside forces that pushed against his conservative claim. He has been at odds with Cruz and with others who sought the GOP nod for president. He also had to deal with the likes of Democrat/Socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, whose uncanny appeal to Generation X’ers, young voters and liberals dogged Democratic foe Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign. But it also caused consternation for Trump, who was obviously aware that Sanders, the embodiment of liberalism, was drawing major favorability ratings from potential voters.
Trump has resisted those who feel he should push further to the right, as if to counterbalance the ultra-liberal pitch of the Democrats. He has rightfully concluded that the appeal of a Bernie Sanders lies not in anything attainable, but rather in his left-wing rants to deliver lots of free goodies to spendthrift Democrats – cost-free college, free health care and a continuation of welfare handouts.
Candidate Trump hasn’t bothered with that hogwash. He is a self-made man, and knows that this nation cannot be great unless men and women learn to stand up and succeed. He has lately found favor with figures like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a successful Republican in a state full of Democrats. He has tapped a popular governor, Mike Pence of Indiana, as his vice presidential running mate. He is also currying favor with Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the house known not only for his political acumen, but for his ability to reach across the aisle and strike compromise decisions with Democratic lawmakers.
With Pence on the team, Trump may have to back away – even just slightly – from his conservative stance and take a more centrist political position. To stand out in a nation where many want to stride blindly down the liberal road, Trump may have to step toward the middle if he hopes to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. next January.
Will Hillary also swerve from her rapid flight to the left? Probably not. This year, unlike 2008, there will be no Barack Obama standing in the way of her presidential bid. In fact, Obama is buttressing Hillary’s candidacy, even taking her on a jaunt aboard Air Force One (at a cost of $1 million to the taxpayers) to campaign with her. It’s no coincidence – despite his protestations – that this was done for optics on the same day that FBI Director James Comey announced in a 15-minute speech that no criminal charges would be brought against Hillary for her botched, negligent use of a personal email server during her term as secretary of state. (The first 13 minutes of that address seemed to be a run-up to an indictment, but he sidestepped that decision in a hard turn at the end of his speech.)
Hillary’s agenda is picking up steam right now, more through her courting of liberals than her attacks on Trump. She will continue to thump her liberal drum for same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, climate change and gun control – always a target following police shootings and mass carnage such as that recently inflicted in Orlando, Dallas and Fort Myers.
For Trump, the road ahead may be tough. But he has the motivation and support to carry out the task – even if it means moving toward the center. Even though many agree with what she says, Hillary’s election represents another 4 years of politically (injustice) impairment of public order and American power.