Carter? Clinton? Bush? Obama? Trump? How They Influence Elections and 2022
If you voted for a former US president, you more than likely still support him. If you voted against a former US president, you more than likely still do not. A curious thing about former presidents is that some historically went into private life, some were somewhat active, and some remain active in the political process.
This article will take a 10,000 foot introduction of each of the currently living US presidents and then make an observation which is the purpose of this article for 2022 and 2024.
We often forget or choose to discount both positive and negative aspects of their administration. The further back the administration was in office; the more we give allowances for misgivings — well, usually.
Mr James E. “Jimmy” Carter may likely go down in history for being one of the most influential former presidents, not for how he remained in the public spotlight; but more for the work he did around the world outside the political arena. Both as statesman and philanthropic giant, he worked to better the world using his former office in a positive way.
As for Mr Willam J. Clinton, his activity is a bit of a Janusian engagement. Whether it was because of Mrs Clinton’s foray as senator, cabinet secretary, and then presidential candidate; he seemed content to shy away from the spotlight and focus on the Clinton Foundation. He would reappear sometimes with a less aggressive approach than the earliest days of his post-presidency. Neither were notably active in the 2020 cycle.
Like Mr Carter, Mr George W. Bush, 43d President; was more content living a private life and focusing on painting and in my view, healing his own wounds of how he looked back at the veterans who served during his administration. Among the current living US Presidents, he is the only one who also served in the military and likely was a factor in how he looked at those who served. He interjected himself into the primaries ahead of the 2016 cycle when his brother, Mr Jeb Bush, threw himself into the ring for the Republican primaries. Again, likely because of that reason, he also made nuanced public comments during the 2016 presidential campaign. Aside from that, he took the approach of the 41st President, his father of being a family man content to let others take their turn. It is my observation that it was his election that really started the divide that exists today in American politics. Was it because of the court challenges in Bush v. Gore? Was it because of 9–11? I’ll leave that to be postulated by others. This shift that seemed to begin under his tenure does seem to be a part of where we are today. I’d add that his approach to a more private life also let opinions remain where they were as he left office rather than those who have tired to influence that legacy like some in our nation’s past.
When you look at Mr Barack Obama’s influence past his administration, it is by far the most active of the last three discussed. There are several thoughts of why this is, and likely two are more prominent than others. First, it wasn’t that long ago. Combine that with the fact that in 2016 and 2020, Ms Clinton and Mr Biden were part of his administration. Secondly, and this cannot be ignored, is that he was the first African American president and his election not only brought out voters that hadn’t voted in the past; but also raised that mantle that when we say anyone can be president; that saying included more Americans than ever in our past. My observation is that when he did campaign or spoke in support of candidates, he did so with a passion that often went beyond support, rather often pushed the divided nation further apart. In some ways, perhaps many, he was also still focused on the legacy of his administration. That makes sense in many ways. Mr Obama was the first, in modern history, to make public comments about his successor before the first three years of their tenure. Typically that unwritten rule was that the former president held his opinions until the re-election cycle.
Lastly, Mr Donald J. Trump. Picking up the thought process from the end of looking at Mr Obama, Mr Trump took making public comments about his successor within the first week, and perhaps earlier. No matter how you look at this, Mr Trump was a sore loser and refused, and still refuses to accept that Mr Joseph Biden won the election in 2020. Setting that aside, Mr Trump has interjected himself in nearly every aspect of attack on the Biden Administration and the 2022 elections. As Mr Obama is a lightning rod, positive for democrats and negative for republicans; Mr Trump is a lightning pole. He is perhaps the most polarizing president in modern history. Those who voted for Mr Trump in 2016 did so knowing his personality. He didn’t apologize for that. Yet, there is a certain civility that we look for in our leaders. For Mr Trump, his interjection post-presidency (and to be fair it hasn’t bee a long period of time), has been as verbose as it was during his presidency. Unlike Mr Obama, Bush, Clinton, or Carter; he has tried to manage the headline and remain the leader of the republican party.
With this in the rearview mirror; why does any of this matter? It matters. It matters a lot.
The reason that inspired me to write this article is an article in TheHill.com on November 17, 2021. It was entitled, “Trump gives McConnell insult-filled ultimatum on Biden agenda” by Alexander Bolton.
Nearly every press outlet, of every political stripe; predicts that the Republican Party will dominate the 2022 mid-term elections and over-take both the US Senate and US House of Representatives. This is not only because history shows this tends to be the case; Mr Biden’s favorable rating along with Ms. Kamala Harris, the VP; are well below water.
The ranting of Mr Trump that was exhibited in the article in The Hill is similar to what we saw in the administration and since his defeat. Let’s remember that Mr Mitch McConnell, as Senate Majority Leader during the Trump Administration did much of the having lifting of the Trump agenda. It’s not a total surprise as Mr Trump levied equally disparaging comments about many to include many that he hired in the Administration from Cabinet members to Mr Powell of the Federal Reserve. Some were vicious and many were just rude coming from the chief executive.
This continual attack on nearly anyone that isn’t a beyond loyal Trump supporter, is an attack that goes beyond the target. As a citizen in Virginia, I saw first-hand how Mr Glen Youngkin handled the “Trump” effect. He kept Mr Trump at arms length and did not campaign with surrogates. As a side note, and this is really important buried deep in my article; is that I don’t support any surrogates from outside the jurisdiction of an election. National elections — sure. We were voting for our governor. We didn’t need to hear from Mr Trump or Mr Biden or Mr Obama. We did hear from Mr Biden and Mr Obama. What they say about our Commonwealth is our business. In 2020, when millions of dollars and surrogate after surrogate went to Georgia for the post-election re-do’s — that was in my view, wrong. The citizens of Georgia need to select their senator who represents them. If a candidate cannot stand on herself or himself or theirselves, perhaps they shouldn’t be in that office. The same happened in New Jersey and while Governor Murphy won, it was incredibly close and again, Mr Murphy brought in surrogates while Mr Jack Ciattarelli didn’t (from my memory).
So, here is the point. The mid-terms will come sooner than anyone thinks. After the first of January, “it’s on.” There will be those who savor a Trump endorsement. There will be some who will follow the Youngkin model. Let’s take Alaska and Arizona as examples. Mr Trump is publicly supporting and raising money for candidates running against incumbent republicans. That’s dangerous. Will or could a less strong candidate then run against a stronger democratic candidate? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is more than a likely possibility.
The Republican Party must look at Mr Trump, good and bad, in the rear view mirror. If he runs again in 2024 — let the chips fall where the voters say. In the interim; candidates must take a stand now. Candidates must run their own race. Remember that a compliment from Mr Trump today is easily a scathing insult tomorrow.
The other side of the election is the salivating by democrats with opponents who embrace Mr Trump. They will see the ads that we saw in Virginia. So and So is running against Trump. When Mr Biden spoke for Mr Terry McAuliffe, he mentioned Trump’s name 24 times in 17 minutes. As polarizing as he is, that can — not will — can spell trouble for a candidate.
To every candidate running for office in 2022, I encourage being deliberate of including or not including Mr Trump and Mr Obama in your candidacy. Run for office on your merits. Run on ideas and run to do what you see as right for your future constituents, your neighbors. Go in with eyes wide open. An endorsement can come with danger signs. An endorsement can also come with coat-tail supporters. My sense is take an endorsement and run to win. There will be plenty of roadblocks and barriers along the trail… you don’t need more.
We need free and fair elections. We also need the Press to be fair and we need our former presidents to watch from the sidelines and only join the chorus of those who ask for that back-up singer. When a former president up-stages the candidate, you have to ask who is running.
So, here we go. Come on 2022.