A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away
You know, there was a time when almost every qualified American citizen actually gave a shit about voting. Like in 1789. Most American men, the only ones with the privilege of voting, were serious about that shit. After all, many of them were declared enemies of the Crown, and many friends and family had fought, bled, and even dies in order to enshrine that precious right into our constitution.
And for a long time after that, most Americans who could register and vote remained basically engaged. Sometimes their engagements were senseless and stupid, like the Mugwump Party, or the Know Nothing Party, but at least they showed up!, which meant that politicians on all sides had to at least talk to them and deal with them. There was at least some potential accountability.
To my mind, that changed in the late 1960’s. The combination of the Vietnam war, the Pentagon papers, and the Watergate scandal turned off a large part of the electorate. They came to the sorry realization that all of politics was bullshit. They couldn’t even count on their own elected representatives to shoot straight with them. And so they tuned out. And when they did, they stayed tuned out. Which meant basically a pretty much evenly divided two parties, with solid bases that duked it out every election cycle. Nobody else gave a shit.
But, after decades of largely public indifference in politics, the sentiment suddenly changed. And it changed on January 20th, 2017. Nobody with 12 functioning brain cells gave a vaudeville baggy pants clown like Trump a prayer of winning. And since the Democrats nominated a flawed candidate from a list of two flawed candidates, just enough disgruntled Democrats stayed home to put Trump over the top.
The knee jerk response in the American electorate was immediate and forceful. Trump’s inauguration speech, a dark and violent vision of life in America alone was cause for wailing and gnashing of teeth. Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s nonsensical tantrum that Trump’s inauguration had been The most viewed inauguration in history, both in person and televised, was the largest audience in history. Period! told all of America that they had a an immoral, dishonest administration for the next four years.
The very next day, January 21st, 2017, the anti Trump pink pussy hat protests spread like wildfire to become the single greatest mass protest in global history. The election of Traitor Tot did something nothing else in American politics to that date could do. It awakened the sleeping giant of the American population, and got them to give a shit about politics again.
And the Democrats, who got the memo the same day, were there to welcome them, commiserate with them, and offer them a new home. They strategically fed their outrage, showed them how to effectively mobilize and organize, and promised them relief if they only let the Democrats take control of congress, and put a stopper to Trump and the GOP’s unlimited power.
From where I’m sitting the Great GOP Slaughter wasn’t due so much to anything the Democrats did, but instead what the people did. Normally, like a professional sports team, the political parties send out trained scous to recruit qualified talent to run. Not this time. This time, the state and local Democratic organizations had their doors being broken down by pissed off ordinary citizens wanting to run in opposition of Trump. And the Democrats gave them all of the training and support they could to be successful.
That was the miracle of 2018. The vast majority of the previously slumbering American population was pissed off, and up in arms. And the Democrats gave them exactly what they wanted. A nationwide slate of candidates that looked just like they did! The Democrats benched the normal, run-of-the-mill political kitty litter, and gave them the peoples candidates. All of whom promptly and publicly refused any corporate or big money donations, funding their campaigns through grassroots funding. And ended up outspending entrenched, big money GOP incumbents by three or four to one.
And the Democrats haven’t let up on the gas. They welcomed the millennials in by offering progressive agendas on voting rights, social rights, LGBTQ issues, and climate change. And they welcomed the Parkland kids in with progressive gun legislation. What’s the old saying? Once satisfied, never denied. The Democrats took the steps to make a durable base out of this wellspring of young, long term voters.
And in the meantime, what was the GOP doing? Not a goddamn thing. They had known since 2013 that they were the custodians of an aging, demographically monogamous, racist party, where the actuarial tables were taking their toll every year. They had a 2013 autopsy report to tell them so.
But the 2016 GOP didn’t get the memo. They were all in the thrall of the Trump Miracle! After all, His Lowness did nothing but to play to the worst, most racist part of the GOP base. And it worked!And in a master class in self delusion, the GOP saw Trumpism as the path to fortune and glory for at least the next generation.
But they failed to realize, in 2017, and up until today that Trumpism is nothing more than pure fools gold. After all, The Cheeto Prophet has never won a national popular vote. And under his moronic tutelage, he has cost them the House, the Senate, and the White House. They are ensnared in the halcyon visions of political Brigadoon, They are enchanted in the thought of a permanent minority majority. Which isn’t working so well.
The national GOP has never twigged to the fact that they awoke that sleeping giant, and turned a previously dormant voting population of Americans against them. And if they don’t get their collective shit together, dump Trump and Trumpism, and start talking to and appealing to the now awoken giant, then they are shortly headed to permanent Minority status. Here endeth the lesson.