Of course, the mainstream press is reporting Tuesday's elections as the greatest miracle since the loaves and the fishes, and insisting that it's all over for Democrats, particularly in the Senate, probably forever. But despite the inevitable pro-Republican spin, how true is it really?
Here's my not-so-pessimistic take on what happened in the 2016 elections.
There have been four two-term Presidents since Roosevelt. In the midterm elections of their second terms, they lost an average of six seats. At this point, the Democrats have lost seven (there are a couple of runoff seats still in play.)
Several factors combined, however, to make this a particularly bad year for Democrats. The 33 Senate seats up for re-election this year included far more vulnerable Democratic seats than Republicans, something that is due more to chance than anything else. Also, this is really the first year of Citizens United, in which the Republicans were able to utilize billions of dollars of "dark money" on their behalf, a vicious phenomenon that has never been seen in American politics. Finally, this election comes after an unprecedented campaign of public abuse directed toward the President and all Democrats, also financed by more billions from sociopathic oligarchs determined to dominate American political life.
So, what did all of this money and all of this malignant propaganda buy the Republicans? One seat. One Senate seat beyond the pattern for previous second term midterm elections. One seat- that is what Republicans have bought with their six year campaign to pervert American democracy.
Even that is a tragedy, given what Republican rule inevitably means for the country, but if this is the best that they can do, under the most favorable of circumstances, I don't think we need to be that worried. And the Republican base continues to age and die off, while the Democratic base grows. Now, all we need is for Democrats to decide not to run away from the things that made the Democratic party great, and the Republicans will soon be relegated to the place they belong- the dust heap of history.
And don't get me wrong here- I am by no means happy about the miserable, craven campaign the DNC and the DSCC ran this year. They have run away, over and over again, from positions supported by a vast majority of Americans- traditional Democratic positions- in order to wage a Quixotic campaign to win over the zombie hordes that vote to harm themselves by electing Republicans. I remember a political saying I heard (from a Republican) long ago: "Shoot the ducks where they lie." It means not going after voters you are never going to persuade when there are so many that will vote for you if you are on their side. That's a lesson that Democrats seem never to learn- go after people that just might vote for you, not the ones that never will. Had they absorbed that simple concept, they might, even in a year when everything was stacked against them, have won a victory.