January 22, 2015
By John Zogby
Washington, DC—The battle for the presidential elections in 2016 has begun. A President who has taken credit for extricating the U.S. from two major wars in the Middle East just launched a new one on Tuesday evening, figuratively speaking. The battlefield is more about the future than the present.
Will the Great Obama Coalition survive? Is it portable to the next Democratic nominee? Will the Democrats continue to be the party "of the people" or will that erode on the shoals of new entitlements and runaway debt? Will the Democrats continue to cede the support of white working-class voters or will the economic war on the middle class by the hard right subside in favor of a new war for the middle class?
These are all questions that will soon be answered as the preliminary campaigning starts taking shape later this year.
Make no mistake about it—this was a resurgent Obama that we saw on Tuesday evening and not a lame duck. Obama was not waving a white flag to surrender to a Republican Congress. Instead, he was a man basking in better polling numbers, higher consumer confidence, and better economic growth. He was the man with the best numbers in the room. And he acted and sounded liberated from never having to run another campaign except for his own legacy, which the Republicans couldn’t resist cheering. But he succeeded keeping his base together for a successor, and beyond, and for his place in history.
The State of the Union message not only recalled his successes in health care, job creation, ending the Middle East wars, and expanding gay rights, it was a clarion call for aggressive “middle class economics,” such as new tax cuts and credits, more affordable childcare, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, lowering mortgage premiums, free community college, infrastructure spending and for continued leadership in science and technology.
He called for bipartisanship, despite strong Republican opposition to his goals. It was a brilliant speech and he will not get very much of it accomplished. But he launched the 2016 presidential campaign by defining his legacy and keeping the Obama coalition together.
Well-said Mr. President!