By Robert A. Vella
This blog has been but one of many voices repeatedly warning the Democratic Party about low voter turnout trends among left-leaning Americans. The general problem of civic disengagement, although evident in most democratic countries worldwide, is particularly acute in the U.S. where its political asymmetry is most profound. So far this election season, voter turnout in the party primaries is substantially down for Democrats and dramatically up for Republicans. If this dynamic holds through November, a right-wing extremist candidate like Donald Trump could – contrary to conventional wisdom – win the presidency.
The central issue here is the undeniable wave of angry populism sweeping the country. All the Republican candidates have embraced it to one degree or another, with the fanatical nationalist Trump leading the charge. The two remaining Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are locked in a battle for the ideological soul of the party with the status quo establishment candidate Clinton trying to put down the progressive and populist upstart Sanders. If Hillary wins the nomination, voter turnout in the general election among the disaffected base of the party is likely to remain low. If Sanders wins the nomination, many centrists and moderates might vote for the Republican nominee or choose not to vote at all. In either case, the situation for Democrats is more volatile and problematic than it is for Republicans. Their best chance to hold the White House might be for the radical Trump to scare the hell out of independent voters with his inflammatory rhetoric and thus shift the electoral tide towards the Democratic candidate – presumably Clinton.
Further reading: Democratic Party better heed Rachel Maddow’s warning