The November Washout : Are the Democrats even relevant anymore?

November 8 was a complete and an utter washout: Democrats lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, the right to nominate Supreme Court judges, and above all the US Presidency. Add to the mix the fact that the Republicans control the legislature and the Governorships in more than 30 states,and we can see that perhaps the biggest outcome of the election is the continued erosion of the Democratic Party’s power across the country.

The current situation of the Democratic party is diametrically opposite to what it was during the inauguration of Obama’s first tenure. Democrats had huge majorities, and they also had the upper hand in the House or Representatives. However, since 2008, the tide has gradually turned from blue to red. The key question which arises here is : How did this happen? Is the Democratic party even relevant anymore? 

First of all I would like to remind you that the erosion of power of the Democratic party did not start this summer. It is an ongoing process which has its beginnings in 2013, when the Republicans gained control of both the Houses of the US Congress during the mid-term elections, effectively making President Barack Obama a “lame-duck” President.

Historically, the Democratic Party has been the majority party from the nation’s inception until the 1980s. Actually, the Democrats promoted higher-turnout instead of USPs – and most people voted for them. It is a proven fact that more the voter turnout, the better the prospects of the Democrats winning the elections. Also, the 1970s-1980s were the era when globalisation kick-started, thus the Democratic Party’s liberal platform and agenda received a significant boost. All of that changed by the turn of the millennium. The 2000s marked the start of what is usually called the “New Coke” Democrats’ effect. Let me explain the analogy: 

In 1985, Coca Cola was the market leader in soft-drinks, but its smaller rival Pepsi was gaining market share. In order to counter the rise of Pepsi, Coca-Cola’s executives reformulated Coke’s flavour to taste like the sugary Pepsi. However Pepsi drinkers already drank Pepsi, and Coca-Cola drinkers were left with no brand that they liked. The same is the fate of the Democrats. In order to counter the rise of the Republican party, they shifted their stance from the liberal left to the centre-left : resulting in their abandonment by their original voter-base.

Image result for democrats
The Democrats shifted their platform from the Left to the Centre-Left.

Another factor for this washout was that the Democrats started running on a platform of cowardice and negativity. Instead of accepting policy failures and proposing remedies, the Democrats started to state : “The Republicans are worse than we are”. So What? Platforms such as these discouraged the voters to come out and vote. And for the first time in history, the voter-turnout in 2000 dropped by more than 10%.

The 2000s also marked a marked change in the leadership of the Democratic Party : from inspiring, rags to riches personalities to unpopular business-minded personalities.  As Democrats embraced neoliberal “market solution” arguments and moved away from representing the interests of working-class and middle-class voters, many of those voters had nowhere left to turn and simply stopped voting.

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Low voter turnout cost Democrats the Election

A mix of all these factors have put a big-question mark on the relevance of the Democratic party in the politics of the world’s sole superpower. The only way of survival for the Democratic party is to fight Trump. Donald Trump has earned the lowest approval ratings of any US President (38% as of January 2017), and the Democrats need to take advantage of that. Democrats still command a large following from liberal and populous states like California and New York, which are central to the nation’s politics. I sincerely hope that the Democrats learn from the Coke-Pepsi fiasco and fight Trump, staying true to their liberal and inclusive ideals.

Note:- All the opinions stated in the above article are the author’s own.

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