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The Democratic Party “base”

So what's happening with the Democratic Party's base in the run-up to the November midterm elections? Not much it seems.

The Wall Street Journal today reports on how union leaders are trying to drum up support for Democratic Party candidates, and are not having much luck. It quotes Debbie Olander of the United Food and Commercial Workers in Denver, who finds "there seems to be a lot of apathy out there." The Journal's report follows many others that find an unenthusiatic response among Democrats.

President Obama seems to sense this, which is no doubt why he started a speaking tour last week. While hoping to stir up the kind of passion seen around the time of his election, Obama has also let slip his frustration with "progressives". In his interview with Rolling Stone, he says:

The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.... We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up.

Remarkable. Here is the man who was said to have created a newly-mobilized electorate - one that would permanently change American politics - now admonishing his "base" for not being excited enough just two years later.  The reality is that the traditional Democratic Party "base" has been crumbling for many years, especially the unions. Obama keyed into a genuine desire for change and built a coalition among diverse groups to get elected, but he did not have an organic relationship with a true base of support, grounded in his ideas and policies, that could stand with him.

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