One year ago Democrats were looking forward with unbridled optimism. America had diversified ethnically, the party’s base had expanded, and it looked like a golden future for progressives. These demographic trends were going to ensure a permanent Democratic majority. But now this has proven as illusory as Karl Rove’s “permanent Republican majority” in the Bush years.
In addition to losing the White House and both houses of Congress, Democrats have lost over 900 seats in state legislatures since 2008, along with many governorships. And all this happened while polls consistently showed that a majority of Americans support Democratic policies such as an increased minimum wage, a public option for healthcare and a transition to a green-energy economy. So how did this nightmarish paradox happen, and what can be done to fix it?
If this most bizarre of elections was about anything, it was that Americans of all persuasions were fed up with the status quo. That’s how Trump squeaked by Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College—she was the status quo. Yes, every American election must always be about change—we’re a restless, dissatisfied people—but this last one was clearly a loud growl of discontent.