Hillary Clinton is eager to wrap herself in the Obama colors, especially now that the president is enjoying some of the highest approval numbers of his tenure. That puts her in a precarious position when it comes to the economy, though, which has been shackled by policies that keep it constrained, stifled, and struggling to breathe. Obama hasn’t regulated all the life out of it yet, but it’s time for Republicans to explain to the American people just how much harm he has done.
Obama has been crowing about his economic recovery for the last couple of years, desperate to create a legacy that includes the line: “He brought us back from the worst recession since the Great Depression.” To prop up this legacy, he points to the addition of 14 million jobs since 2010 and an undeniable decrease in the overall unemployment rate. To prop up this legacy, he ignores the startling exodus of Americans from the job market and the sub-par growth of the GDP.
Hillary, on the other hand, can’t afford to ignore the weaknesses in the Obama economy. She’s forced to play a tricky game of praising his results while acknowledging that things could be a lot better. This isn’t a game that typically works, which is why we so seldom see a party hold the White House for three consecutive terms. But it may work for her, simply because she has the entirety of the media on her side. A media that has made it nearly impossible for any criticism of this White House to slip through to the public.
That’s not the only problem, though. The other problem is that our economy has been stagnant for so long that many Americans have forgotten that it was ever any other way. You’ve seen the polls that show the majority of millennials believe their lives will be worse than those of their parents. That’s not blind pessimism; it’s based on what they see in front of their eyes.
But don’t mistake that for truth.
The truth is that the American dream is still alive and well. It’s been hidden from view, but it’s still there and it’s still as powerful and transformative as it ever was. It’s available to anyone who wants to reach out and take it…but only if they believe they can.
And that, really, is perhaps the most enduring Obama legacy. It’s not just the regulations and the taxes and the policies; it’s his ideological preaching that robs Americans of their individual destiny. Clinton is another messenger of this sermon. If she serves eight years in the White House, an entire generation will have grown up under this tragic lie.
Inasmuch as Donald Trump can “save” America, he can begin by reminding the voters what it really is.
And what it’s really capable of.