[This is the second of two posts comparing the 2016 and 2008 electoral climates. First post here]
Who is left as the parallel for the Tea Party of the Democrats, if not the Bernie movement, which is more like the Trump phenomenon? As far away as it seems now, it was the Obama coalition -- which was contemporaneous with the failed Ron Paul movement, and two years ahead of the successful Tea Party movement.
We're hearing lots of lazy and lame comparisons of the Hillary-Obama competition in 2008 to the Hillary-Bernie contests today. But Obama was not an anti-Establishment candidate, either at the time or once he took office. He wasn't railing against Wall Street, corruption of campaign finance, widening inequality, the selling out of the American economy through globalist trade agreements, endless foreign wars, and other staples of progressive complaints. And he certainly was not openly at war with the leadership of his own party.
Just as Ron Paul represented the junior partner in the longstanding GOP coalition (the Cultural Right), while McCain represented the senior partner (Wall Street), so did Obama represent the Cultural Left as opposed to Crooked Hillary who represented the neoliberal Wall Streeters, both factions of the longstanding coalition of Democrats. Just as the Ron Paul supporters felt sick of being marginalized so long for the benefit of the neoconservative economic and governmental policies, so the Obama supporters felt sick of being marginalized for so long for the benefit of the Clintonite neoliberals, who have identical policies with the neocons on matters of economics and government.
Obama built his entire campaign around the theme of being a Social Justice Warrior in Chief, having cut his political teeth as a community organizer in Chicago. Much attention was devoted to his two books which are both masturbatory identity politics memoirs. And a large amount of his appeal was the potential to elect the First Black President -- that appealed most to the identity politics of blacks themselves, but also to Cultural Left white people, whose identity crucially includes a bullet-point about having cool minority friends and generally wanting to elevate ethnic minorities and debase their own ethnicity.
Hillary, on the other hand, tried to appeal to the more upper-middle-class white suburban soccer moms and doofus dads. Her campaign tried to portray Obama as a foreigner and a Muslim in contrast to the nice white lady (it was the origin of the birther movement), and as a radical in contrast to the reliable moderate who will be there to answer the "call at 3 AM" (unless it's coming from Benghazi). Her goal was to continue her husband's Presidency, with whatever NAFTA v.2.0 turned out to be, while making token gestures to the Cultural Left (mostly on feminist issues).
Obama winning the Democratic primaries over Hillary was like if Ron Paul had won over McCain. Both his Presidency and the Tea Party counter-reaction to it mark the high-point, or rather the low-point, of the Culture Wars, when the globalist elites have gotten their economic and governmental agendas pushed through without any opposition, while the electorate is distracted by social and cultural topics.
Obama representing the Tea Party of the Democrats becomes even more eerie if we compare him not to Ron Paul but to Mr. Tea Party himself, Lyin' Ted Cruz. Both entered the primaries as unknown freshman Senators in their 40s, plagued by doubts about being natural-born citizens, post-racial symbols who were half-white and half-Other, ostentatiously faking their religion to pander to cultural voters ("black church" and holy rollers), in general being sociopathic chameleons who grandstand to please a crowd, and promoting themselves as cultural saviors of demi-god status (magical wise Negro, Judeo-Christian theocrat).
Really the only difference is that Cruz's adultery has been with women rather than men.
And just as a hypothetical Cruz Presidency would be defined by ramming through the Wall Street globalist elite agenda, while putting on one cultural-right spectacle after another, so has the Obama administration been defined by ramming through that very same agenda, only putting on one cultural-left spectacle after another to distract the people from the wars, the corruption, and the disintegration of their economy and nation. This distraction works whether the citizen is on the Left or Right, all that differs is whether they're cheering or boo-ing while distracted.
The other major difference is that the Obama coalition voters won the Presidency, while the Tea Party voters won the Congress. But we shouldn't ignore the similarities just because the Democrats' version of the Tea Party didn't win Congressional influence -- Presidential influence is far greater. The size of the turnout for the Obama coalition was larger than for the off-year elections that brought the Tea Party to prominence, and were no less geographically widespread. And both intensely energized their demographic bases like never before -- blacks and evangelicals -- rather than being a lukewarm "go-ahead" to the Wall Street elite's preferred choices.
Everyone loves to point and laugh at how crazy the Tea Party movement looked, but it was no less of a nutjob affair than that which elected Obama to the Presidency for two terms. American voters had turned politics into such a culture war contest that only these two clown cars were the possible end-points. Their extremist nature has over-excited the populace, which is now eager to get back to basics by focusing on the government itself and its interaction with the economy.
It is no coincidence that Trump and Bernie took off against all odds during the same season, much as Obama and Ron Paul were unexpected insurgent sensations eight years ago. Only this time, the shoe will be on the other foot.