Barack Obama burst onto the national scene with a speech denying the power — denying even the reality — of the deep divisions that seemed to define American politics.
“The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states: red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats,” he said in 2004. “But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.”
His 2009 inaugural speech held to the theme. “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”
This was Obamaism: the theory that the widening gyre between Democrats and Republicans was an illusion whipped up by political consultants, that bitter partisanship was a childish thing that could be put aside to solve America’s toughest problems.