- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Barack Obama has decimated the Democratic Party.

Twenty years go, President Bill Clinton carried West Virginia by 15 points. On Tuesday night, his wife, Hillary Clinton lost it by 42 points. Not only did Donald Trump win Kentucky — a state Mr. Clinton carried two elections in a row — Mr. Trump helped the GOP win control of the state’s House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 100 years.

If you say this tide was driven by white, bigoted, racist voters — your analysis is too shallow.

It’s because of Mr. Obama’s radical liberal agenda. It’s his building a coalition on the disparate interests of minority groups and the political global elite, and ignoring middle-class America.

In the name of climate change, Mr. Obama has been waging a war on coal for the last eight years, crushing the livelihoods of so many. Before Mr. Obama, coal jobs were plentiful in small flyover towns — where a person could come out of high school and immediately start earning $70,000 a year. Now, they’re unemployed, with humiliating job prospects, like working for fast-food chains.

Their lives have been devastated. Drugs are ravishing their communities, while their life expectancy is decreasing, and death rate increasing. Yet the Democratic Party, under Mr. Obama’s rule, didn’t seem to care.

Combined with a boon in natural gas, coal mines lost 7,500 jobs last year alone, according to federal data. The number of Kentucky coal jobs has plunged to fewer than 6,500 from about 18,000 when Mr. Obama took office, and that the number fell 6.9 percent between this April and June alone, according to The New York Times.

“President Obama cares more about Paris, France, then he does about Paris, Kentucky,” Bill Bissett, the president of the Kentucky Coal Association, told the Times in August.

When Mrs. Clinton came to Ohio, she promised more of the same: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” she said, further rubbing salt in the wounds of the unemployed.

Mr. Trump didn’t forget these people — or look down on them — instead, he embraced them.

In May, in West Virginia, Mr. Trump declared coal minders should “get ready, because you are going to be working your asses off!”

He promised the same to the blue-collar steel workers in the industrial Rust Belt.

“The legacy of Pennsylvania steelworkers lives in the bridges, railways and skyscrapers that make up our great American landscape. But our workers’ loyalty — you know it better than anybody — was repaid with total betrayal,” Mr. Trump said in an economic speech he delivered in June in Pittsburgh. “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization — moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.”

“For years, [politicians] watched on the sidelines as our jobs vanished and our communities were plunged into Depression-level unemployment. Many of these areas have still never recovered. And never will unless I become president. Then they’re going to recover fast,” Mr. Trump promised.

White Evangelicals — also pushed to the brink by increasingly progressive social policies dictated by Mr. Obama’s administration — fought back hard. Four in five white evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump, whereas back in 1996, Mr. Clinton won the majority of them.

Forcing little girls to share bathrooms with grown men? Small business owners coerced to bake cakes for same-sex marriages? Stripping the Democratic platform of all it’s references to God and offering taxpayer money to fund abortions? It was all too much. Evangelicals — and Catholics — voted for change.

Mr. Obama’s signature achievement, Obamacare — which was enacted with virtually no Republican support — has also been an unmitigated disaster.

In Arizona, premiums are set to rise as much as 116 percent, in Oklahoma, 69 percent. Insurers are rapidly pulling out of the exchanges and coverage options are dwindling. The law has never been popular, and now Americans realize Republican opposition to it was justified.

The law helped motivate women voters to support Mr. Trump. Overall, 42 percent of women voted for the businessman — a much higher number than was predicted by the pollsters. Women are the guardians of their families’ checkbooks and healthcare. The economy — not gender issues — matters most to them, and Mr. Obama let them down.

Under Mr. Obama’s watch, Democratic state governorships shrunk to 17 from 29 when he was first elected to office, and more than 900 Democratic state legislators were defeated. Republicans will enter the White House with both legislative branches in their control and their pick of a Supreme Court justice.

That is one heck of a rebuke to his progressive policies.

Without Mr. Obama on the ticket, African-Americans and young voters didn’t show up for Mrs. Clinton, meaning his winning coalition isn’t transferrable. It was built entirely on his own personality and popularity that transcended actual policy results.

Was Mrs. Clinton an incredibly flawed candidate? Absolutely. But thinking she could run as Mr. Obama’s third-term — without being Mr. Obama — was her team’s ultimate failure.

Democrats are going to need to come up with a new playbook — perhaps one not so radically left to middle America. For Main street came out to vote in 2016, not Wall Street.

Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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