A tweet I received last night about the Illinois's gubernatorial race nicely summed up the reasons behind the Democratic debacle: "Maybe you shouldn't cut working class people's pensions and then expect them to vote for you."
With soon-to-be-former-Governor Quinn attacking tens of thousands of working and retired Illinoisans with a pension "reform" bill that's probably, once again, just kicking the can down the road anyway (because it won't pass constitutional muster), it's little wonder that few could muster enthusiasm for him, even though Bruce Rauner promises many of the same anti-working class attacks.
On the national level, the Democratic base stayed at home, including the much-vaunted and growing Latino vote, rightly disgusted with President Obama's role as "Deporter-in-Chief," the President who has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in U.S. history. A winnable Senate seat in Colorado fell as a result, as did the governorship of Florida. Probably more besides.
From promises of "hope and change" in 2008, we went to "we're not as totally awful as the other guys," and yet the Democrats thought they could garner our enthusiasm. We saw six years of unprecedented attacks on whistle-blowers exposing government criminality - Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden being only the most prominent - to the continuation of America's longest-ever wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - to the continued coddling of Wall Street's elite while more Americans lost their homes to foreclosures and working class living standards tanked.
Next to this, the Democrats' words of support for civil rights, like immigrants' rights, voting rights, women's rights, unionists' rights, and LGBT rights, sounded like empty rhetoric.
Any cursory review of the most expansive periods of civil rights and other social progress in the United States history - the Great Depression-era expansion of workers' rights, and the 1960s and early 1970s expansion of Black, women's and LGBT rights - shows that these gains occurred irrespective of who controlled the White House and Congress. They occurred because millions of Americans were in the streets demanding the changes that they could not get through the voting booth.
So rather than taking the Democrats' deserved Nov. 4th drubbing as a cue for depression and inactivity, we need to use their debacle as a wake-up call to focus on the street activism that produces real change, and not the fake, politicians' "change" of the last six years.
Social movements are what have made those elements of LGBTQ freedom that we enjoy today, not the politicians or political parties. Freedom for all oppressed peoples must and will come from themselves and their genuine allies - and not from the power elites of the major parties.