Let's cheer for Ferguson -- but keep our eye on the bigger truth that our representative democracy is weakened when voter turnout is so low and so poorly reflective of our citizens. But before we rush to make any sweeping conclusions, keep in mind that "argument by anecdote" is dangerously seductive.
This week, America went to the polls. Despite much breathless post-election chatter about "mandates" and "midterm waves," the really big story was not who people voted for but how many people sat this one out. With only 37 percent of eligible voters heading to the polls, turnout was the lowest it's been since 1942 -- when voters were understandably distracted. The disconnect between the governed and the government has grown to historic proportions. Why? Perhaps because of the disconnect between a "recovering" economy and people's daily lives. This might explain why initiatives increasing the minimum wage were passed by huge margins in all four states where they appeared on the ballot, even as candidates opposing a long-delayed increase at the federal level won. People want change, but they've lost hope in the ability of national leaders to bring it. Those celebrating having their ticket to Washington paid for by lost faith and disillusionment should not miss this actual mandate.
Rather than stand and fight, the Democratic National Committee decided to run away and decouple their reelection campaign from the very visible, 24/7 presence of President Obama. This was their "playbook" for holding or increasing Democratic Party seats in the House and Senate. How did that work out?