I was raised in an intensely Democratic household—so much so that my mom once threatened to disown me if I tried to bring a Republican girl home for dinner. In high school, I volunteered for the Kerry campaign as well as campaigns for Democratic candidates for local and state elections. And, for winter break three years ago, two friends and I flew to Des Moines to knock on doors in freezing temperatures for then-Senator Barack Obama. I didn’t even think he was going to win—just three days before the Iowa Caucuses, I told my friend that the campaign was destined for failure. What kept us going us going in that crazy week leading up to Obama’s first big victory was caffeine, camaraderie and faith in the man himself. When he said that he was going to bring change to America, we believed him. January 3rd—the night that he won the victory that set him on a trajectory towards the White House—is probably the best day in my short political life.
Still, despite my strong Democratic roots and personal investment in the Obama presidency, I had a hard time convincing myself to vote in this past election: I never considered voting for the Republicans, but it just felt pointless to vote for the Democrats.
Starting in 2008, for the first time in a generation, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the Presidency. This was the time to be bold. Instead, they were timid. The past two years have been deeply disappointing—from jobs, to environmental legislation, to LGBT rights—the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress seemed unable to address the pressing issues of our times. Even the healthcare and financial regulation bills were unsatisfying as the final products seemed more the products of special interests than principled legislators. Not only does the Democrats’ timidity over the past two years represent a failure for the country, but a breech of trust with their youngest foot soldiers.
If they are concerned about an ‘enthusiasm gap,’ they have only themselves to blame.
In October 2008, I invested my own time and money to knock on doors and make phone calls for Barack Obama’s campaign against John McCain. Two years later, I was barely able to drag myself to the polling booth. While I'm not happy the Democrats took a "shellacking," I can't help but feel that they earned it.