Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Are the Democrats in Trouble?

Matt Yglesias thinks the Democratic Party is in trouble, a fact to some extent concealed by Obama's two terms as president:
The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won't lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren't even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don't even admit that they exist.
As I have said before, I think this is because Democrats have no very consistent economic philosophy. For example, there is no widely shared Democratic plan to decrease inequality. Nor is there a Democratic approach to K-12 education, a big issue in state and local politics. The way gay rights has played out lately has not made it a strong Democratic issue in state or local politics, since most localities are so strongly for or against as to render it pretty much a non-issue; Maryland just elected a Republican governor who successfully argued that his personal opposition to gay marriage couldn't possibly make any difference in such a liberal state. Nobody understands banking reform. Obama's foreign policy has been a muddle, and Hillary's wouldn't be very different from Bush's. I think working to mitigate climate change is a great idea, but it doesn't get Democrats many votes.

Honestly I think the one thing that could vault the Democrats back into the majority would be if Republicans got such big majorities that they could actually enact some of the policies they like to talk about, like privatizing Social Security or eliminating middle class tax breaks to fund cuts for the rich. But as long as those far-right economic ideas are just talk, there isn't much reason for people of a generally conservative mindset to vote for Democrats.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Meanwhile, in Canada...