Reflections on the Clinton Presidency, the DLC, and Today’s Political Climate

This commentary, initially published at GraniteRG.com,  answered my friend’s inquiry. It further served another role of providing a prism through which to understand the current occupant in The White House. I take this critical look, with a particular focus on issues of concern as these become areas where the most challenging thoughts and actions will likely surface.

 

Reflections on Clinton PresidencyPresident Obama’s re-election is, in some respects, more decisive and impressive than the 2008 campaign. While some political analysts will focus on the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, there are as many reasons for African Americans — arguably the party’s most reliable voting bloc — to consider the presidency of Bill Clinton 10 years after his successful bid for the White House.

 

Why Clinton? Because how the major parties interpret the 2012 election will find the African American community in an opportunistic moment to assess its the impact of the Clinton legacy that still guides the Democratic Party and leverage the possible changes within the Republican Party.

Understandably, the Democratic Party is basking in the success of its top elected official. Democrats have reason to interpret its prevailing strategies and structures as a winning formula that need not be altered during the foreseeable future. This could very well mean a study-as-she-goes approach to issues of concern to Democratic constituencies as opposed to upsetting the apple cart before the next mid-term election and in the run-up to 2016.

Conversely, the Republican Party is now undergoing a reassessment of messaging, methods, coalitions, and other facets of its positioning  in American politics. The current political climate is reminiscent to a similar reaction following Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over Walter Mondale. What this means for African Americans remains to be seen. Immediately following the Mitt Romney loss, conservative voices in Congressional, media, think tank, and other quarters cited the need for the GOP to strengthen relationships with the Hispanic-Latino community. Little was said of winning over African American voters who supported Obama at a 96+percent rate in both elections.

This marks an opportunity African Americans to re-position itself as a strategic voting bloc. Re-positioning, however, will require serious consideration of long-standing and deep-seated belief that often to rise to myths. The GOP has believed that it could conquer the final frontiers of electoral dominance without African American support — as evidenced by its neglect of a concerted outreach program. Democrats have viewed black support as a foregone conclusion, despite its gradual shift away from serious attention to concerns of African Americans. Those concerns including: 1) sluggish urban core economies; 2) proliferation of blacks in the criminal justice system; 3) disproportionately high unemployment; 4) failing education systems; 5) breakdown of family structures; and 6) disparate exposure to environmental hazards.

The attached commentary looked at a turning point of Democratic Party politics; the election of Bill Clinton, a conservative Democrat and key figure in the Democratic Leadership Council [DLC]. Twenty years after William Jefferson Clinton won his first term, the time has come for Democratic Party members, African Africans, and middle class citizens to take a candid look at the trajectory of the Democratic Party and the legacy of one of the party’s most beloved politicians. However, the Democratic Party’s success has come despite its movement away from issues that reflected African American activism. As a result, the 2012 campaign witnessed the virtual neglect of 40 million black voters, with the exception of Romney’s less-than-stellar appearance at an NAACP convention.

 

 

Original Publication

Author: Kenneth D. Price
Date: July 18, 2011.
GraniteRG Posted Date: July 19, 2011, Politics and Government [GP].
Length: 9 pages.
Reference No.: GRG-20110718RCP-CGP

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