Former President Barack Obama seemingly broke with presidential tradition Monday, releasing a statement on President Trump’s executive order that bars citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
While Obama certainly has a right to express his opinion on matters he deems important, if he persists, his voice might drown out other Democrats trying to etch out their political futures. His statement against Trump’s orders on Monday could be deemed as unprecedented—as former Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton never weighed in on their successors. In fact, Obama has praised Bush a number of times for his silence.
Obama’s time in the spotlight is over unless he seeks political office on a lesser scale—which would be unprecedented in the modern history of the United States. John Quincy Adams is the only former president to have served in the House, while Andrew Johnson served in the U.S. Senate, the only former president to do so. Both held terms in the 19th century.
If he continues to speak out on Trump, it could suck the air out of the Democrats’ political base, keeping the spotlight on him instead of allowing room for up-and-coming liberals and Democrats, which the left needs badly. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who probably won’t seek office in 2020, is 68 years old. Her Democratic challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is 74 years old. The Democrats desperately need new blood; remember when the fresh-faced then-State Senator Barack Obama from Illinois delivered the keynote address to the 2004 Democratic Convention?
Amid Trump’s victory, analysts noted utterly devastating losses suffered by the Democratic Party at nearly every single level since 2010.
On Dec. 19, Obama noted that his party wasn’t doing particularly well overall, taking some responsibility for the losses. They didn’t build “from the ground up and communicating to state legislators, and financing school board races and public utility commission races,” he told NPR.
Under Obama, the Democrats lost 1,042 seats at state and federal posts, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships, and the presidency. Not to mention, Obama’s chosen successor, Clinton, lost to Trump.
“We’re not even a national party at this point,” Rep. Tim Ryan, an up-and-coming Democrat from Ohio, told Fox News. Ryan challenged California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 76, as House Minority Leader and lost.
“We have some support on the coasts, but we’ve lost the support of middle America, and we’ve got to make some changes. So I’m pulling the fire alarm here, because the house is on fire,” he said.
In his final news conference, responding to speculation on his life post-presidency, Obama told reporters that he “[wants] to be quiet a little bit, not hear myself talk so darned much.”
Given the current status of the Democratic Party and its losses under his two terms, maybe he should take some of his own advice.