And one lesson of that decade, of every election when Barack Obama wasn’t on the ballot, is that a party that’s terrible at governing can still win elections if the other party is even worse at politics.
Which the Democrats, amazingly, have been. Or to be less judgmental, let’s say that there’s been a strange cycle at work, where Republican incompetence helps liberalism consolidate its hold on highly educated America … but that consolidation, in turn, breeds liberal insularity and overconfidence (in big data and election science, in demographic inevitability, in the wisdom of declaring certain policy debates closed) and helps Republican support persist as a kind of protest vote, an attempt to limit liberalism’s hegemony by keeping legislative power in the other party’s hands.
.. But even the Iraq War and the financial crisis didn’t prevent U.S. politics from reverting to a Republican advantage.
.. So that leaves the Democrats as the only people with the power to put an end to the current spectacle of Republican incompetence and folly.
All they need to do is persuade Americans that they have more to fear from conservative hackwork than from a liberalism in command of politics as well as culture.