Progressives cannot avoid addressing (either by action or by omission) it urgently now, as the 2016 Presidential nomination cycle rushes through its ‘invisible primary’ stages.
Republicans have learned from their electoral success that demographic tides can be beaten back through sufficiently funded ‘scorched-earth’ strategies and tactics. Consequently, Republicans are likely to double down (again!) on these strategies and tactics -- tweaked to exploit whatever new issues arise or can be fabricated.
Do Democrats’ 2014 and 2010 electoral failures teach the following?
1. That elections can be won, and legislation passed, by Democrats prioritizing attempts to appeal to swing voters?
(Does there exist a large group of swing-voters in swing-states who, having voted for Romney over Obama, will be swung by Hillary’s characteristics such as foreign policy experience, moderate policies and temperament, survival of vilification, or resistance to “War on Women”?)
2. That Democratic Presidential candidates can rely on identity-based turnout?
(Will more women turn out for Hillary than minorities turned out for Obama – despite the fact that a higher percentage of women already turn out, leaving a lower percentage available to be added?)
3. That the Republicans’ success in stoking voters’ suspicion, resistance and rage against President Obama was mainly enabled by Obama’s Black racial identity and by Whites’ anxieties and hostility towards Blacks?
(How many American voters harbor anxieties or hostility relating to women’s reproductive freedom, choice of sexual partners and activities, education, careers, reduced deference to men, failure to look like Playboy Bunnies or anorexic models, failure to perform sex with as much compliance or intensity as porn stars, weight gain after childbirth, wrinkling with age, ‘gold-digging’ for alimony, etc.)
4. That “we’re No. 2 – in trading political protection for .01-percenters’ cash” is an energizing distinction to variable-turnout, non-turnout, low-information and misinformation-targeted voters?
(How many haters of banker bailouts and impunity failed to vote? How many supporters of minimum wage referenda voted for Republicans? Etc.).
None of the above are correct lessons to be learned from recent experience, which mainly teach precisely the opposite (as is suggested by the above rhetorical questions in parentheses).
Consequently, with Republicans doubling down on voter suppression, media dominance and demonization,
... Democrats’ recent failures are likely to be repeated if they center their strategy on Hillary running as an
experienced, ‘moderate’, “first-woman” President.
I acknowledge that
alternative strategies are not easy to select, to flesh out, or to implement.
They could easily fail for a long time, which is a risk that is particularly ominous when politics, technology and our very environment are visibly crossing irreversible tipping points.
But, although more Democratic business as usual might yield a few successes, the past three Presidential administrations have been largely a series of repeated lessons in the unavoidable shallowness and brevity of these types of successes. With hindsight, these administrations appear to demonstrate largely
a one-way ratchet, converging into perpetually deepening trend towards failure, which appears guaranteed to continue for so long as Democrats refuse to match Republicans in learning from experience.