The 2016 election is only eight days away. It’s looking very likely that Hillary Clinton will be our next President, which is good news for all the progress that has been made under the Obama Presidency. It’s also good news since Congress is virtually incapable of doing anything big. That’s unlikely to change since the Democrat’s path to winning the U.S. Senate is very narrow and the U.S. House remains out of reach. So, at least we’ll have a Democrat in the White House who can appoint good people and make change through executive orders where possible and reasonable.
Even if we pretend the Democrats are able to take back the U.S. Senate this year by the slimmest of margins, people still shouldn’t expect much given the abuse of the filibuster and extreme partisanship. There’s also the GOP controlled U.S. House.
Here in Montana it’s looking more likely that Governor Bullock will win a second term. In Montana, things are slightly better than they are in D.C. The Governor has the coalition of the willing (moderates) to work with in order to a get important things done. Still, there will be plenty of obstructionism during the 2017 Legislative Session. Democrats have almost zero chance of gaining control of either Chamber.
Bottom-line: we may be winning at the top of the ticket, but we’re losing at the bottom. We focus so heavily on the top of the ticket that we forget how our Democracy actually works. Many supporters of Bernie Sanders epitomize this problem. Despite Bernie’s pleas, they saw their political revolution starting and ending with Senator Sanders. This may change, but it illustrates the problem: Democrats get so focused on the big ticket races that they forgot about the rest of the political system. This point is driven home by the fact that a large group of Democrats only show up for Presidential elections.
Conservatives are doing it better
After getting crushed in 2006 and 2008, Republicans realized that they were going to keep losing big ticket races for a number of reasons, including changing demographics and old social wedges no longer serving as effective turnout tools.
So, they started focusing on more locally-focused offices like county commissions and state legislatures. And they started winning. The results have been devastating. While D.C. is stuck in constant deadlock, the burden of governing falls on the states, counties, and municipalities. That is now where the power is and conservatives got the jump on us.
In fact, Democrats now only control 11 Sate Legislatures and have total control (State Legislature and Governor) is 8 states. Unfortunately, even some people chairing the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is charged with electing Democrats to the Montana Legislature are more preoccupied with sending resources aways from Montanan and in to Colorado to help deliver the state for the Clinton campaign. These are the same people who want to run for leadership in the Legislature in 2017. This is a problem. This is why we’re ceding ground to the GOP and their special interests.
Our country is being changed dramatically and we’re not even noticing
Our country is being changed dramatically and we’re not even noticing. Policy-making and governing is happening at the state and local levels, but we’re too focused on what is happening with national politics to notice where the real and growing power actually resides.
If progressives, liberals, and moderates really want to make change and see effective governing, they need to start winning local elections. It’ll be good to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s victory, but don’t let one victory blind you from the larger issue at hand: Democrats are losing ground everywhere and it’s our responsibility to begin a counter offensive.