By Judd Gregg - 03/10/14 06:00 AM EDT
I walked by a bookstore a couple of days ago and there it was: the unequivocal statement that the left has abandoned President Obama. They have “moved on.”
The person in question is no longer “Hillary” or “Madam Secretary” or “the former first lady,” but “HRC.” (Editors’ note: The co-author of HRC is Amie Parnes, White House correspondent for The Hill.)
This label identifies Clinton as the next in line to personify the essence of the American dream as conceived by the liberal movement. FDR, JFK and LBJ are the icons. Now comes HRC.
The initials are used only to identify a person of comparable standing with the earlier heroes.
This identification-by-letters carries with it a heritage of emotional attachment that borders on cultism. And now it has been placed around the shoulders of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Almost three years before the end of his term, the president appears to have been left off at a distant train station, alone on the platform, watching as the liberal flame-keepers move on to the next station.
Recent polls show that more than 80 percent of Democratic Party supporters want Hillary Clinton as president.
At the same time, fewer than 50 percent of the American people still have confidence in Obama.
The scenario has to be met with incredulity by the president and those still close to him.
He is being abandoned by those who spoke of him and his promise with reverent adulation just a few years ago.
In 2008, he beat then-Sen. Clinton like a drum, running circles around her by grabbing the crown of the liberals and presenting the opportunity for what appeared to be a true breakthrough for the nation, in particular on the issue of race.
It’s gone, though. The New York Times, NPR and those who want to hold power within the liberal movement have chosen a new hero.
Republicans observe all of this in amazement. What is there not to like about the president if you are a subscriber to the concept of a large, interventionist government whose workings are paid for by taking the earnings of a few?
But there are rules when it comes to the business of politics. One says that all adulation is passing and everyone is always looking for “the next.”
The president is no longer “the next,” for the left. HRC is.
Republicans should take little solace from this development. First, populist redistribution works in democracies as a winning strategy no matter who practices it.
A perfect formula for winning votes was discovered early in our nation’s history by President Van Buren: the spoils system. This has now morphed into the entitlement system, which is perpetuated in order to win political support, even when the price could well be the bankrupting of the next generation.
More importantly, Republicans have zero room to be complacent or self-congratulatory. We have allowed a few loud voices to wrap the party around causes that prevent it from speaking in clear and believable terms to the American people about how conservative governance can lead to prosperity.
We are lost in our own wilderness, defined by lesser voices who speak for their own aggrandizement, not for the cause of delivering a higher quality of life to more people through more opportunity.
The president may ask what can be done to make sure the rest of his time in office is not a waste; Republicans should use the same period to ask what should be done to develop a message that average Americans see as appealing.
The answer is sitting there: Team up. The president’s core constituency on the left has decided it wants to look for a greener pasture. The majority of Republican voters have been abandoned to mindless phraseology from a few shouters.
Ignore both groups and move to govern on numerous issues that are awaiting leadership such as immigration reform, tax reform, Medicaid reform, Medicare reform and defense policy.
This would create a legacy for the president and Speaker that the majority of Americans would profusely thank them for — without the need for initials.
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.