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July 29, 2016

Democrats: Forward to a Dark Place

“From ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America.’” But who’s responsible?

“[Donald Trump has] taken the Republican Party a long way — from ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America,’” lamented Hillary Clinton in her coronation speech last night. But who’s responsible for the fact that America is experiencing a dark night?

On that note, it’s worth revisiting what we heard on Wednesday night from our current president. Of course, Barack Obama’s address — which was supposed to show his support for his former opponent and most logical successor after Joe Biden decided not to run — was chock full of references to himself and his record. (There were 119 of them.)

Yet despite the flood of narcissism, many observers (even a few conservatives) thought Obama’s remarks were a solid address to the nation. “Except for the parts about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the speech was upbeat and hopeful,” wrote The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto. But as Byron York pointed out in the Washington Examiner, the tone of Obama’s speech was appropriate for a nation in good times, and, unfortunately, more than half the nation thinks we’re not in good times. “The question in the general election campaign,” wrote York, “is whether voters buy Obama’s optimism enough to elect his designee Clinton.” Tellingly, Clinton tried to distance herself last night from any suggestion that she’s the status quo candidate.

It’s also worth asking if Obama’s sunny picture of his presidency — which he admitted “hasn’t fixed everything; as much as we’ve done, there’s still so much I want to do” — is reflective of the America we’re supposed to be. To a group of partisans for whom these may be foreign concepts, Obama spoke at length about the “values” of his American grandparents who raised him:

> “And it’s got me thinking about the story I told you 12 years ago tonight, about my Kansas grandparents and the things they taught me when I was growing up. See, my grandparents, they came from the heartland; their ancestors began settling there about 200 years ago. I don’t know if they had their birth certificates, but they were there. And they were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers, ranch hands, pharmacists, oil-rig workers. Hardy, small-town folk. Some were Democrats, but a lot of them, maybe even most of them, were Republicans. Party of Lincoln. And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn’t like show-offs. They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, what they valued were traits like honesty and hard work. Kindness. Courtesy. Humility. Responsibility. Helping each other out. That’s what they believed in. True things. Things that last. The things we try to teach our kids.”

Obama may claim to have heartland values, but he has governed in quite the opposite way, making the speech what Taranto called a serious “disjunction with reality.”

As a reminder, on Monday Senator Elizabeth Warren warned the Democrats about what she called “Donald Trump’s America”:

> “Donald Trump’s America [is] an America of fear and hate. An America where we all break apart. Whites against blacks and Latinos. Christians against Muslims and Jews. Straight against gay. Everyone against immigrants. Race, religion, heritage, gender, the more factions the better.”

Yet this is Democrats’ America, and it’s precisely what the past seven-and-a-half years have brought us. Obama has fomented division along racial and economic lines and ruled by a federal government that is replacing honesty and hard work with handouts, rent-seeking, and political favoritism. With Clinton running as Obama’s political ally and baton recipient, we should expect more of the same if she prevails in November.

This stark reality was evident in Republican nominee Donald Trump’s more realistic view last week. “If all Donald Trump did between now and November were to delineate the darkness created by the left and the Democrats, he could potentially win in a landslide,” opined Dennis Prager.

Still, there is a third way that the Democrats couldn’t truthfully relate and Republicans, sadly, chose not to. Thirty-six years ago, in the midst of both economic and geopolitical crises, we heard these words from the opposition party nominee:

“‘Trust me’ government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs — in the people. The responsibility to live up to that trust is where it belongs, in their elected leaders. That kind of relationship, between the people and their elected leaders, is a special kind of compact.” His address concluded with an appeal for a moment of silent prayer.

That man was a fine reflection of American values. So in looking back on the Obama years, it’s shameful that during his convention speech Wednesday night he cynically attempted to co-opt Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill.” America is in a dark valley, and that’s a result of Obama’s policies. Hillary Clinton will only take us further down.

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