The 2014 election season was notable for one story above all others: the way Democrats in almost every state regarded the president as poisonous to their campaigns. Watching Dems distance themselves from their chief representative has been almost surreal, especially considering that their differences are hardly ideological. Most of these candidates who want to keep Obama as far away from their rallies as possible voted with him (or would have) on every issue of significance. It’s an image problem, nothing more or less.
But why is Obama experiencing such dreadful approval numbers? Why is he so unpopular, even within his own party? I think there are three reasons, and they are issues of such entrenched substance that it will be impossible for Obama to win back the country. None of them are his race, contrary to the opinions of Mary Landrieu.
1 – The Economy
If you ever want to pinpoint a president’s dropping poll numbers, start with the state of the economy. Americans don’t care about anything else as much as their livelihood, their retirement options, their careers. Unless a catastrophic event has happened – a major breach of national security or a very unpopular war – Americans are going to look first at how much money they have in the bank. And there’s no question that Obama has been murder on the economy. Unfortunately, his tax-the-rich, spend-it-all liberal philosophy is unlikely to usher in a boom anytime soon.
2 – The Affordable Healthcare Act
Obamacare has been regarded with suspicion from Day One, and things are worse now than they ever have been. Though liberal cheerleaders have declared that Republicans were wrong about the law, the American people see it differently. They see major corporations slashing full-time jobs ahead of the employer mandate. Small business owners see what the law is going to do to their bottom line. And millions of Americans have seen the disastrous effects it has had on their personal insurance plans. The ACA isn’t going anywhere, though; even if it is miraculously repealed, it won’t do anything for Obama’s approval numbers.
3 – Incompetency and Scandal
Obama seemed to his acolytes like the perfect antidote to Bush. He was old and white, Obama was young and black. Bush was a hawk, Obama a pacifist. Bush was a cowboy, Obama an intellectual. If it’s possible to take any joy in watching your own country in decline, it has to come from seeing liberals realize they elected a mirage. Obama’s presidency has been mired in incompetency and scandal from the beginning. From the IRS to the VA to the border to the Justice Department to Bergdahl to Benghazi, it’s been one thing after another. There’s a sizable portion of Obama supporters still waiting anxiously for him to make good on one of his earliest campaign promises – to close Gitmo.
Even as someone who fiercely opposed Obama for ideological reasons, I hoped he would at least acquit himself as the first black president. Unfortunately, it looks more and more like that title will be the only part of his legacy that will shine throughout history. The rest has been an unqualified disaster.