THE ELECTION AND THE MORNING AFTER

Well, that was … depressing.

Truth be told, the election went about how I expected it to, though I was holding out hope that Charlie Crist would eke out a victory. It was a Democratic bloodbath through and through, no point denying that, a repeat of the same dynamic we saw in 2010: a low-turnout election — the lowest since 1942, in fact — dominated by old white conservatives.

This, along with his rich pals and his own checkbook, propelled our current governor back into office. This, along with the investments by the Koch brothers and their allies, made Mitch McConnell your next Senate Majority Leader. And this, along with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s millions and propaganda that would make the Soviets blush, is what doomed Amendment 2 to a “mere” 58 percent of the vote. (Which is, it’s worth noting, more votes than any statewide candidate got, and about the same percentage that the 2006 constitutional amendment that required all future amendments to receive 60 percent of the vote received.)

So for all the considerable handwringing and gnashing of teeth among Democrats, both here and nationwide, the equation is pretty simple: Republicans voted. Democrats didn’t — just as they didn’t in 2010, just as they tend not to do in most non-presidential elections — despite all the talk about data-driven GOTV and the precision of the Obama campaign apparatus and how medical marijuana was going to motivate otherwise disinterested young, liberal voters.

The question is why.

The economic recovery, after all, is chugging along, netting some 200,000-plus jobs a month. Unemployment and the budget deficit are ticking down. The stock market is breaking records. Gas prices are dropping like a rock. Health care reform rolled out in piss-poor form, sure, but since then has gone more or less as planned, and helped a whole bunch of people. These are not things that, historically speaking, usually presage a president with approval numbers hovering around 40 percent and a dispirited base.

The reality is more complicated, of course. The recovery is lopsided; wealth is accumulating at the top. For everyone else, wages are stagnant. There are too many long-term unemployed, too many people with too little hope, too many folks who’ve dropped out of the labor pool altogether. Job growth in concentrated in services, especially low-wage services. In so many ways, the recovery is anything but. And Obamacare, as successful a policy as it’s been — and it has been — has also been a colossal failure of messaging.

As the adage goes, Republicans fall in line. Democrats fall in love. And love is more fickle than duty. Love requires something to believe in. In 2008, when the Democrats routed the Republicans up and down the ballot, they had that. In 2014, they didn’t. Oh sure, they were against a lot of things — against the Kochs’ money, against whatever supposedly dastardly, reactionary Republican they were running against — but they never gave us any reason to vote for them. And they lost.

There’s a lesson there — and one that rings especially true for the Florida Democratic Party as it tries to dig out from a disastrous cycle. Charlie Crist lost not because his positions were unpopular, but because he was a thoroughly uninspiring candidate, the callow embodiment of ambition over substance. People saw through him. Some of them voted for the other guy. Most didn’t vote at all.

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