Here’s a few things every politician, and certainly every eligible voter should be keenly aware of:
-A majority of Americans support raising the minimum wage.
-A majority of Americans support overturning Citizens United.
-A majority of Americans support Same Sex Marriage rights.
-A majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
-A majority of Americans oppose new wars in the Middle East.
-A majority of Americans support the health reforms of the ACA.
-A majority of Americans support equal pay for women.
-A majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose.
-A majority of Americans support stricter gun control, (I’m not one of them, but it’s true, so it goes on the list.)
-A majority of Americans support raising taxes on the wealthy.
-A majority of Americans support extending unemployment benefits.
-A majority of Americans support a federal jobs bill.
-A majority of Americans support immigration reform.
-A majority of Americans support alternative energy initiatives.
Yet a minority of Americans just handed the Senate to the GOP and grew their majority in the House, just to add insult to injury.
There are a number of boring reasons that contributed to the electoral bloodbath last week. First, mid-term elections are traditionally a difficult time for the party of the sitting President. President Obama saw six Senate seats slip away in 2010. In 2006, George W. Bush watched his party lose six seats in the Senate and thirty-one seats in the House. In 1994, Bill Clinton saw eight Senate seats evaporate. In 1990, Bush Sr. lost one. In 1986, Reagan watched a whooping eight seats fly the coop.
Secondly, the GOP enjoys some structural advantages built into our electoral system that most Americans don’t realize heavily favors their party, regardless of public opinion or voting patterns. This is especially true in the Senate.
You see, the Senate was designed from the onset not to be democratic. Our two-chambered legislature was designed to try and balance popular opinion with the concerns of smaller, less populated states. The Senate’s make-up of two Senators from each state, regardless of how many people actually live there, was intended not to be representative as a means of protecting smaller state interests from being railroaded by a handful of large states.
As a result, when a person in Wyoming (pop: 576,000) votes for their Senator, their vote carries weight equal to sixty-six voters from California (pop: 38 million). It’s no secret that more rural populations tend to vote more reliably conservative, while urban residents even in heavily red states, tend to vote more reliably liberal. This division has only accelerated in recent decades, and its distorting effects on the make-up of the Senate means Democrats have an uphill battle to holding the upper house even from the start.
But I don’t believe that either of these reasons fully explain what happened last Tuesday night. While an energized GOP base turned out in great numbers to punish the Democrats for, well, doubling the DOW, lowering unemployment from 10% to less than 6%, and slashing the federal budget deficit by almost two thirds, the rest of us watched and listened to a Democratic party that apparently didn’t know or didn’t believe the polling of public opinion on all of the issues at the top of the page and spent their campaigns distancing themselves from their own positions and accomplishments. As a result, the message the majority of the country got from them was that Democrats are too afraid of political backlash to fight for their own principles.
The Democrats have, over generations, just gotten so used to their brand being tarnished with accusations of communism, being weak on defense and foreign policy, tax-and-spend, bad for the economy, and on and on, that they have somehow missed the fact that their platform is not only popular among their voters, but actually has either a majority or plurality of support among even self-identifying republicans on many issues.
If you want to beat the GOP in 2016, there’s only one thing you have to do.
Stop apologizing for being Democrats.