There's a lot of discussion of how and why, and most of it focuses on messaging and propaganda. Both of these are real problems. David Neiwert comments, "I would be remiss in not pointing out one of the key dynamics that has been at play for some years, and really became a significant factor last night: Our failure to take right-wing extremism seriously." An excellent point, and one that has borne repeating for years now. Jim Wright points out that Democratic Senatorial candidates ran away from Obama, which was shameful and disloyal, and probably made their losses worse.
The last time the Republicans were in power, they started a war in Iraq, paid for it by borrowing money, further expanded the deficit by cutting taxes for the rich, and left us arguing that, no, torture is a Really Bad Idea. The Republicans have a history of doing their worst when they get the opportunity, and they're in a good position to do it now.
But I'd like to look back at something else. A while back, I wrote "To win the next election you have to deliver. Obama didn’t deliver on jobs, housing, and banking, and it’s pretty hard to message that away" and also "Faced with an election that is the crystallized result of essence of policy failure, Obama decides that he…sent the wrong message."
No, you idiots. You didn't send the wrong message. You bailed out the bankers and not the public. You let people be thrown out of their homes through rampant fraud. Six years after the crash, people are still out of work and you bargained away the unemployment insurance extension. Salaries have gone down. Most of us have gone through our savings and you have done nothing to help. Oh, you did create the Consumer Financial Protection Board, but this is a tiny bandage on a great gaping wound. And you did pass the Affordable Care Act, which at least means we can get medical care—in some states—while we're broke and wondering how to pay the rent. But these are nowhere near enough when set against the disaster of the past six years. And you have the gall to ask for our votes? Why would anyone vote for the party that did that?
Well, there is one reason. The Republicans are worse, lots worse. But, "Vote for us, we're not totally insane right-wing fanatics" is not much of a campaign slogan.
And, finally, that is why the Democrats are not popular. People have decided that "society" is not working for them, and they are trying to leave. Isn't that what the Tea Party Republicans are about? But that trick never works. There is no place to go, and there are people are all too ready to promise to take you there, but instead lead you into madness.
So what might the Democrats (or some new party) deliver on? The economy, obviously. There's infrastructure work to be done. The government could hire people to do it. There's hungry people who need to be fed, and homeless people to be housed. And ending the drug war would improve our lives.
As to the Republicans…they threw away the opportunity for a generation of peace and prosperity to fight pointless wars and line the pockets of the rich. They may yet drown human civilization.
But, "Vote for us, we bring peace, prosperity, and weed" — that just might go somewhere.
Added Nov 8: I see that Linkins and Carter over at the HuffPo have independently drawn similar but much more detailed conclusions about Obama's economic policies.
(Updated the day after the original posting; "houses" changed to "homes," bible quotes removed, and a bit about the modest achievements of the Democrats added.)