By Harold Meyerson
Democrats had ample reason to fear that this year’s midterm elections would not go well for them, but bad doesn’t begin to describe what happened to them—and the nation—yesterday. Catastrophic is more like it.
Democrats didn’t just lose the Senate; they lost statehouse after statehouse. They didn’t just lose the red states; they lost the purple and the blue. They lost the governorships of Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, and had the governor’s contest thrown into the legislature by the failure of their incumbent governor to win 50 percent of the vote in the socialist enclave of Vermont. They lost their last white member of the House from the deep South (Georgia’s John Barrow), but they also lost seats in the deep North—two in New York, one in New Hampshire, possibly one in Maine, and they are clinging to narrow leads in two of Connecticut’s five districts. Their statewide down-ticket candidates will probably all claim victory in deep-blue California, but by margins far narrower than those they’re accustomed to, and some presumably safe Golden State House seats are in danger as I write.A defeat this comprehensive should compel the Democrats to acknowledge that their problems go beyond the six-year jinx
A defeat this comprehensive should compel the Democrats to acknowledge that their problems go beyond the six-year jinx—the year in a two-term presidency that usually sees a rout of the president’s party in Congress—the smaller electorates of midterm elections, the Republican suppression of the minority and youth vote, and even the flood of money that has deformed our democracy. A defeat of this magnitude suggests that the Democrats are in the same fix as most of the center-left parties of Europe—parties that purport to be the economic advocates of the middle and working classes, but preside over abysmal economies with no clear sense of how to make them better.
In Europe, the austerity economics that the European Union enforces at the insistence of Germany has caused massive disaffection from the ranks of the governing parties of Southern Europe, whether center-left or center-right. In the U.S., the declining economic prospects of the Democrats’ core constituencies—minorities and the young—greatly reduced their turnout in yesterday’s elections. Democrats pointed to the economy’s recent growth, but apparently did so at their own peril: When 95 percent of the income growth since the recovery began goes to the wealthiest 1 percent, as U.C. Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez has documented, reports of a recovery strike most Americans as news from a faraway land. [ …]
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Curated from prospect.org