America's two main political parties are in the throes of an unprecedented crisis: Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican Nominee, a candidate which neither GOP leadership nor its traditional voter base are comfortable supporting; meanwhile, Hillary Clinton remains unable to quell the insurrection of an avowed socialist who just a few short months ago had next to no name recognition.
Such widespread dissatisfaction with the standard-bearers of the two parties speaks to the dissatisfaction many Democrats and Republicans feel towards the political establishment that President Barack Obama shacked up eight years ago.
Obama's rapid ascension and widespread domestic successes have destroyed and dealt the Republican Party a death blow. His presidency has also witnessed the dilution of the Democrats' traditional power base; thus, eight years later, Obama's stunning 2008 victory appears to mark the beginning of the dissolution of America's traditional two-party system.
A young Barack Hussein Obama overcame many obstacles just within the Democratic Party to win elections and join Congress as the junior Senator from Illinois in January 2005. After completing less than half of his six-year term, Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Shockingly, the Democratic establishment was unable to impose its preferred candidate, favorite daughter Hillary Clinton -- wife of the most successful Democratic politicians in recent history -- as the party's nominee. Without the enthusiastic support of millions of youths, white progressives, and minorities -- many of whom made frequent small donations of only $1 to $5 dollars to Obama's campaign and, by American standards, believed they were participating in a political revolution -- Mr. Obama would not have been able to withstand and overcome Empress Clinton's significant financial advantage. Ultimately, Obama's open rebellion against the Democratic establishment, defeat of Clinton in a rugged primary campaign, and arrival to the White House have significantly diminished the role of party politics.
Republican Party leadership immediately attacked Mr. Obama upon his ascension to the presidency, with GOP members of the House and Senate promising to obstruct Mr. Obama at every turn and make him a one-term president. Many even resorted to adopting anti-Obama policies, rhetoric and conspiracy theories that created a dangerously racist, intolerant and Islamophobic national dialogue. For example, the so-called "Birther" movement has incessantly questioned Mr. Obama's American citizenship due to the fact that he was born to a Kenyan immigrant father. Clearly and quite deplorably, the color of Mr. Obama's skin has played a significant role in much of the Republican Party leadership's racist invectives directed towards the president.
Today, as the end of his presidency nears, Mr. Obama's record of domestic policy success is striking, particularly with regards to the destructive affect his tenure in office has wrought upon the increasingly intransigent Republican Party. We must also remember that, when President Obama began his presidency in January 2009, he was confronted with the global financial crisis, the worst such disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Faced with an economic catastrophe that threatened to collapse the international financial system, President Obama deftly guided the U.S. through the crisis during his first few weeks and months in office, while incurring only minimal losses.
Though an adversarial and obstructionist Republican Party has sought to stymie Mr. Obama at every turn, the President was able to pass the most comprehensive overhaul of the American healthcare system in more than a half century. By far his most important domestic achievement, "Obamacare" granted health insurance to more than 21 million American, decreasing the amount of uninsured Americans from more than 20 percent of the population to less than 10 percent. Moreover, President Obama has successfully introduced significant changes to the United State's energy sector, substantially reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil while overseeing unprecedented growth in the use of clean and other renewable energy sources. Lastly, Mr. Obama has repeatedly adopted and supported fair and equal pay initiatives to ensure that women are paid the same as men across a range of professions and sectors.
Initially, Republican anger and obstructionism appeared to pay off: fringe, right-wing elements of the GOP coalesced to form the Tea Party movement, which claimed extensive victories in 2010 Midterm Elections, the first elections held after Obama's triumph in 2008. Traditional elements of the GOP were shocked that Tea Party candidates who employed aggressive, racist, and at times even fascist rhetoric scored such overwhelming triumphs in the House and Senate. Absent central leadership, the Tea Party operates as more of a widespread, extreme philosophy of political conservatism that seeks to drastically limit government spending, rigidly opposes any increase to taxes, and claims to repel the "Islamization" of America. Tea Party iconoclasts, including such individuals as former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, routinely adopt the kind of racist rhetoric that reflects the Republican Party's general attitudes and disposition towards President Barack Obama and all the racial and civic progress that he stands for.
The Republican establishment has repeatedly lied about and distorted Mr. Obama's record to promote the conceit that America power is on the decline vis-à-vis other nations and the country as a whole is on the verge of collapse. Clearly, these divisive and radical policies backfired against the GOP establishment, paving the way for the rapid rice and stunning success of its now presumptive nominee Donald Trump. In this analysis, the racist, right wing vitriol spewed by "The Donald" isn't anything new or exclusive to the Trump brand; rather, Trump has merely articulated, in terms wildly popular with the most dissatisfied segments of American society, the types of policies and positions that the GOP has relentlessly pursued since Obama's arrival to power and his initial success in office. That the Democratic contest improbably carries on as a result of Bernie Sanders' insurgent campaign, modeled after the president's own victorious 2008 operation and which has shaken the very foundations of the Democratic Party, proves that the destructive effects of Mr. Obama's presidency reach far beyond just the Republican party to the include the entire two-party system as we know it.
Mohamed Elmenshawy is Washington Bureau Chief for Alaraby Television Network, and a columnist for the Egyptian Daily Alshorouk. He can be reach on twitter @ElMenshawyM / or email firstname.lastname@example.org