by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“Join me on Team ’18,” former President Barack Obama wrote in a recent fundraising email from his old political group, Organizing for America. “Every election, every ballot measure, every conversation between now and November … it all matters.”
It wasn’t much, but the email was one of Obama’s few public, political, overtly partisan appeals as the Democratic Party approaches midterm elections that could stop President Trump’s agenda and boost Democratic prospects going into 2020. To have an ex-president who remains highly popular with his party sitting on the sidelines cannot be what Democrats hoped.
There are reports Obama plans to campaign for some Democrats starting in September. But beyond simply hitting the stump for the midterms, Obama could be, if not the full-fledged leader of the “Resistance,” at least a constant and public critic of the direction taken by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.
Instead, Obama isn’t seen much. …
… There is no leader of the Democratic Party. A president is the leader of the party in the White House, and the opposition party doesn’t really have a leader. For Democrats today, who would it be? Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California? One of the party’s 2020 hopefuls? There just isn’t one.
For Democrats, Obama, who isn’t running for anything, could be as close to a leader as an out-of-power party can have until the Democrats’ next presidential nominee comes along. But he’s just not taking the job.