For the longest time, Democrats held many of their voters with two issues: abortion rights and gay marriage. To me these were always the central issues that automatically turned on a passionate and unconditional support for the party.
And then progress – technological in one case and moral in the other – solved these issues. A party is no longer urgently needed to advance them. My emotional attachment – and clearly not just mine if we look at the results – evaporated.
We keep hearing that the Democrats abandoned their working class base and are working solely for the benefit of educated professionals. I’m an educated professional, but I’m not seeing what it is that the party is offering me. An opportunity to pay higher taxes to open more diversity offices? No, thanks.
Coasting on nothing but the fact that the opponent is even worse is a doomed strategy. Yes, people are too nauseated by Republicans to switch sides. But they aren’t showing up for the Democrats too enthusiastically either.
Abortion and gay rights were clear specific goals. Something equally clear, concrete and emotionally potent needs to be found.