The Demise of the Democrat Party
The Democratic Party leadership has watched in surprise as their hold on elected positions at all levels of government has slowly eroded. Commencing with the election of former President Barack Hussein Obama in 2008, the number of seats lost is staggering. Things were looking good for the Democratic Party at the Inauguration of President Obama in 2009; The Democratic Party had a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives 256-179, Harry Reid was Majority Leader of the Senate with a comfortable majority of 57-41-2 (I) having picked up 8 seats from the Republicans in the 2008 election. The shift in power from a Republican to Democrat President in addition to the substantial gains made in both Houses seemed to indicate that America was giving the Party full support. Meanwhile, the GOP appeared to be on life-support; their message unclear and the Party leadership being scrutinized for their recent failures. State Governor-ships were also favoring the Democrats, with a comfortable margin of 29-21, having gained one additional spot in the 2008 election.
From Obama to Trump
Fast forwarding to the Inauguration of current Republican President Donald Trump shows a striking and dramatic change in the political landscape of the nation. Republicans now control the Senate with a 52-46-2 makeup of the legislative body. The House is also firmly in GOP hands with a 238-193 split; 4 seats are currently vacant awaiting special elections. State Governor-ships have also shifted toward the Republican side of the fence, with 33 states run by GOP candidates, 16 by Democrats, and 1 by an Independent. The shift of the Presidency, the Senate, Congress, and State Governor-ships only tells a portion of the story. With nearly 1,000 seats switching from Democrat to Republican or Independent since the first election of former President Obama, Republicans now control the Legislatures in 32 states to the Democrats 16; 6 states have split legislatures.
Political Make-up of the US
National polling firm, Gallup, observed that the greatest move away from the Democratic Party occurred between 2009 and 2010. The number of states with a Democratic advantage fell from 33 to 22. But more important, a new trend was established; a trend in which favored GOP support. As pollsters watched the trend continue, there was speculation that the GOP would retake the White House in the 2012 election. The nation was mired in controversial issues; a list led by the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act. Then President Obama was highly popular with his constituents, but his policies were considered divisive by many. The GOP put their support behind Mitt Romney, a Mormon businessman with a huge portfolio and deep bank account, who had formerly served as Governor of Massachusetts. Unfortunately for candidate Romney, he spent too much time on the campaign trail touting his “white knight” persona of being the “savior” of the nation, instead of presenting the electorate with real solutions to the nation’s problems. In the end, President Obama secured a second term without much concern, yet concern was growing as the Republicans had regained control of the House in the 2010 mid-term election.
Shift in Power
The swing from Democrat control to Republican control was immense, with 63 seats being picked up by the GOP. This was the single largest gain by Republicans since 1938 and the largest swing in the House in over 60 years. At the time these losses were blamed on opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and the way it was pushed through Congress, the poor economy, and the out of control spending from the Executive Branch; adding to the deficit on a record pace. These issues resonated with the electorate, but seemed to fall short of convincing Democratic Party leaders to change their platform. Perhaps the pickup of 2 additional Senate seats in 2012 and 8 House seats gave the Democrats the feeling that President Obama would somehow turn things around on the major issues and “right the ship.” Yet, 2 years later, the Republicans returned to their winning ways and strengthened their hold on the House by picking up 13 seats and also retook the Senate by winning an additional 9 seats in that body. This was the first time since 1918 that the Democrats had lost control of the Senate in a 6th year midterm election. It was also the largest gain in the Senate by the GOP in over 30 years. Political analysts tried to explain the losses by poor voter turnouts in key swing states; estimates are that it was the worst turnout since the 1942 election. The House and Senate were firmly in Republican hands at that point, but once again, the States Legislatures shift toward more GOP control seemed to be low priority for the Democrat Party bosses.
The subsequent election of businessman and political upstart Donald J. Trump put total control of the Federal bureaucracy in the hands of the Republican Party. That election was historic as it was the first time a U.S. President would be elected in the modern ear having never served in government beforehand. It was also the first time a woman ran for the highest office in the land at the top of a major party ticket; prior to the 2016 election several women were on the ticket as Vice Presidential candidates (Sarah Palin, 2008, and Geraldine Ferraro, 1984.) The aftermath of the 2016 election will be remembered in many different ways, but mostly negative. By the numbers, the most obvious fact was that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote; a subject which many activists have kept their focus on. Despite the fact that America elects the President utilizing the Electoral College, there has been outrage by Democrats who felt Mrs. Clinton was somehow robbed of the White House.
The aftermath of this historic election has been the top story on most news sites, nearly every day since the swearing-in. The stories aren’t always the same, but the narrative is similar; Democrats and their supporters have committed themselves to constant protests; many are violent with protestors wearing quasi-military garb and masks to hide their identities. Sympathetic members of the news media are working overtime to smear the President, even going so far as to continue the false-narrative of a Russian cover-up. Even the big wins for the country, such as the unemployment level dropping to it's lowest level in over a decade, are being ignored for highly speculative stories from unreputable sources. As President Trump continues to “drain the swamp” the rhetoric gets louder and louder. Every action by the White House is challenged, every Executive Order reviewed by the courts, and there are constant leaks at all levels of government in an attempt to ruin any chance for the President to succeed. The recent firing of James Comey, the former Director of the FBI, has added yet another layer of angst to Democrats narrative. Despite the fact that many Democratic leaders called for his firing, once Trump gave him the axe, there was a lot of faux outrage. Most pundits expect this behavior to continue from the minority party; at least until the midterms. The looming questions are still whether any of the post-election activities will improve the future chances for Democrats to get elected, or will they alienate themselves from the American public even more by playing politics instead of working with the President to improve conditions in the job market and economy. Time will tell.