If you take Obama out of the equation, what Buttigieg was saying before it looks like folks might stop sending those fat campaign checks is all but conventional wisdom even among liberals. Obama himself reportedly has grave doubts about what Trump means for his legacy. Clearly if the party could lose to the most unpopular major party nominee in the history of polling, whatever was happening before 2016 was not exactly working out.
And from the other side of the fence, Obama has shown no inclination to fulfill the sort of leadership role loyal Democrats clearly crave. Despite the shattering national crisis that Trump presents, he has not gone on to a different office — unlike, say, John Quincy Adams, who returned to the House after his presidency and fought slavery literally until his dying breath. Obama is not out there mobilizing day and night against Trump’s migrant concentration camps, or his Muslim ban, or his blatant abuses of power.
Only occasionally will Obama pop up to endorse candidates, often centrist or center-right white men like Emmanuel Macron or Justin Trudeau. He largely avoided campaigning in 2018 until the last few weeks before the election. He’s mainly keeping to himself, hanging out with rich tycoons and celebrities, and making eye-popping sums giving paid speeches before big corporations and banks.