The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won't lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.
Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren't even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don't even admit that they exist.
Instead, the party is focused on a competition between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over whether they should go a little bit to Obama's left or a lot to his left, options that are unlikely to help Democrats down-ballot in the face of an unfriendly House map and a more conservative midterm electorate. The GOP might be in chaos, but Democrats are in a torpor.
The worst part of the problem for the Democratic Party is in races that are, collectively, the most important: state government.
Elections for state legislature rarely make the national news, but they are the fundamental building blocks of American politics. Since they run the redistricting process for the US House of Representatives and for themselves, they are where the greatest level of electoral entrenchment is possible.
And in the wake of the 2014 midterms, Republicans have overwhelming dominance of America's state legislatures.
Instead of saying that if we lose the presidency, we cede the entire country to the GOP (which would be true, they would control nearly every aspect of our government) we need to get the states back. It's fine to say "well nobody really has a plan for that" because that's true, but we need to get one and fast.
The descent from 2010 to 2014 has been precipitous. Obama's re-election was the only good news for the Dems, because right now only seven states are under Democratic control.
Seven. Out of 50. The Republicans have complete control of 25 states, including swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida, and legislatures in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
We have to get the states back, or we're done. 2016 is vital for the White House of course, but if we lose any more state legislatures at this point, the Democrats are going to be relegated to a New England/California coastal party.
In a lot of way, we already are. We sure as hell didn't vote in 2014. If the same thing happens in 2018, the country's done. This is the reality we live in: the GOP is one solid Democratic scandal away from running the entire country and it's entirely plausible that they get there.
Nobody believes the Democrats can get back to 2008 right now by 2016. Hell, I don't think we can do that by 2024.
Now here's the sober reflection part.
We don't even have a plan. And maybe that *is* the plan.
You have to admit, the best way for the Dems to get back to 2008 was to be where the GOP was in 2004. Sure it means destroying our economy again, and having the Democrats try to clean up, but breaking the government would be a lot faster than incremental change.
I'm not saying that's a good idea at all, it's horrible. But I'm thinking that there are Democrats who like the idea, and it's the same ones who have been saying "We need to get working class white guys back!" for 35 years now.
I know Dems have a problem. That's not the solution. Let's not play right into what will surely make this worse.