Election 2020: Obama’s Stark Legacy
Last night, Wednesday, August 18, former President Barack Obama, addressed the Democratic Party in day 3 of their Convention.
Except he wasn’t speaking to Democrats. He was speaking to independents, the shadowy “unaligned,” the non allies, the non voters. That’s a good thing for Democrats and for those who watched Obama change his tone.
The so-called independent/non voter pool judging from the 2016 Presidential election is a large group, about 44% of registered voters. (1) They are, collectively speaking, the reason HRC “underperformed.” Even a 2.87 million plurality popular vote was not enough to propel her past the 18th century Electoral College and the wannabe 19th century Republican controlled state houses. You know the states. So the Democrats need to win overwhelmingly. And this means prodding this 44% to abandon their Barcaloungers and join the angst pool.
Trump’s interventions and multiple voting interferences aim to keep these folks home. So the Democrats. in order to win overwhelmingly need to trip up Trump in his quest for a non-election mandate.
Obama for his part has come out of the normally quiescent ex-Presidential closet to warn that more than democracy is at stake. Abandoning his “this might be my fault, we pushed too hard” musings, the former President sounded an existential alarm for the nation.
There was none of the “this election depends on what kind of country we want” malarkey. Aspirational politics went out the window. Sounding like a cross between FDR and LBJ, Obama raised a metaphor to help us get on our feet, and as the following speaker, VP nominee Sen. Kamela Harris stated, “walk with faith, not with sight.”
It was a crushing metaphor-by-comparison, invoking our forebears who suffered mightily at championing an idea they barely understood, “democracy.” ‘Barely understood’ because as. newcomers to America, all they had to compare their adopted country to were the repressive tyrannies and economic disenfranchisement that made them leave. Fresh faces in a new country, taking the lowest paying jobs, in the riskiest arenas against the barriers of privilege and dominance. And here WE are and there is no place to go. WE are self-appointed refugees.
Do we know other? Are we carrying the torch given to us by the quietly courageous who risked life and limb to stand up for democracy? People like John Lewis, Obama’s sole contemporary call-out during his metaphorical address.
This is Obama’s stark legacy which he exposed Wednesday and demanded we take up: Democracy doesn’t begin and end with a vote. Democracy may be shelved even with a popular mandate.
Witness Ukraine, Belarus and Syria.
What may “seal the deal” in this election is that Trump may be able to steal or at minimum delay the election and muddy the results. Surely that is what he and his minions are trying to do. But he can’t halt the desertion of Republicans from what’s left of their party.
Consider that every hastily removed mailbox yields another Republican defection. Defection garners faint praise for the newly “unaligned” who are challenged to live with their bad 2016 choice and for those whose choice was not to vote. As for the “rest of us” unaligned? This voting segment expired Wednesday night.
Obama made sure of that.
August 20, 2020
1 Voter turnout in the 2016 Presidential election was 55.7% of eligible voters, a scant increase over the 2012 election. Source: Wikipedia