There’s a lot of talk about the enthusiasm gap for the midterms between those fired up to vote Republican and those disappointed in the Democrats. And for good reason. If you look around, it would seem that a lot of “the base” is thinking of withholding their vote for the Democratic party. For example: a new ad in Nevada from conservative Hispanic group Latinos for Reform recently sparked some controversy. It lists grievances with the Obama administration and Democrats in general – mostly that they made promises for immigration reform that haven’t been kept – and ends with the simple imperative: “Don’t vote.”
But they’re not the only ones who might abstain from heading to the polls. At The American Prospect, Jamelle Bouie sees few policy iniatives to help black people and worries, “the longer Democrats don’t have to worry about losing African American voters, the longer Democratic representatives can take advantage of their black support.” Lt. Dan Choi, a US service member who was discharged for being openly gay under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Tweeted today that he won’t vote for Obama. Why? Because a Court Of Appeals temporarily stayed an injunction against the DADT policy after the government had tried to get a stay itself. Much concern has been raised about a low level of enthusiasm among women voters — and rightly so. A commenter who weighed in on a post I wrote urging women to vote shared this feeling: “Democrats aren’t doing what we put them there to do. They aren’t listening to the concerns of women and other marginalized folks who voted them into office.” Many women feel this way.
Blacks, Latinos, gays, women. Even issues groups like environmentalists are wondering if they need to reconsider support for our Commander in Chief. No one feels they got what they wanted these past two years. The question for these groups is whether they lose power by being a shoe-in voting bloc for their party. The conclusion many are drawing: don’t give Democrats your vote on November 2nd.
So what does this mean for the Democratic Party? Basically everyone has prophesied that the midterms will be a bloodbath. The enthusiasm gap will be all over the news on November 3rd and then fade into the background. But this is a long-term problem, and one the party will eventually have to face up to.
And we’re going to have to grapple with it, too. It’s clear we can’t find a friendlier ear in the GOP. As women, minorities, progressives, are we willing to keep voting the lesser of two evils? Do we lose our voice if we refuse to vote? We’ll have find some answers.