Democrats' Grip on the Future Slips Away as Techies, Young Retch in Disgust


Smirking Obama
White House

The most inevitable thing about politics is that not a fucking thing is inevitable. At the moment, that's undoubtedly true of the Democratic Party's much ballyhooed grip on America-to-come—enabled more by the Republican Party's loving embrace of repulsive officials and policies than by its own efforts, but what the hell. Just last year, Nate Silver told us that President Obama had a lock on Silicon Valley checkbooks, and only weeks ago, USA Today predicted that young voters promised to turn Virginia into a donkey party province. And in such a short time, without any assistance from the largely self-sabotaging major opposition party, the Democrats have managed to piss off both constituencies. The future may well be democratic, but it's looking less certainly Democratic by the day.

Writes Dana Liebelson at The Week:

In the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Silicon Valley was squarely in President Obama's corner.

Google's executive chairman coached Obama's campaign team; executives from Craigslist, Napster, and Linkedin helped him fundraise; and when the dust settled, Obama had won nine counties in the liberal and tech-heavy Bay Area, scoring 84 percent of the vote in San Francisco. But a little over a year later, following explosive allegations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the government is exploiting tech companies to spy on Americans, some members of Silicon Valley are taking a new perspective: "F— these guys."

That's what Brandon Downey, a security engineer with Google, wrote late last month, upon learning that the NSA had broken into Google and Yahoo and was exploiting the data of millions of users, allegedly without the companies' knowledge. He added, "We suspected this was happening, [but] it still makes me terribly sad. It makes me sad because I believe in America…The U.S. has to be better than this."

Likewise, while the Democrats' Terry McAuliffe did win the Virginia gubernatorial election, he did so by a narrower margin than expected. Importantly, he did it without the youngest voters. According to exit polling, voters between the ages of 18 and 24 went 45 percent for Republican Ken Cuccinelli, 39 percent for McAuliffe, and 15 percent for Libertarian Robert Sarvis.

Vote by age

The why of the transformation from a predicted Democratic lock on the youth vote to a Republican plurality among the youngest is unclear, but the College Republican National Committee ran ads in Virginia comparing McAuliffe to an online scammer and playing up disappointment with Democratic promises.

In the year of Obamacare, NSA spying revelations, DOJ investigation of journalists, politicized IRS treatment of nonprofits, ad nauseum, it's not too surprising that young Americans have lost that shiny, happy feeling about the guy in the White House and his playmates.

Likewise, Silicon Valley techies concerned about civil liberties and an open society are very clearly shocked to discover that the politicians who whispered sweet nothings in their ears meant…nothing.

"There's a strong libertarian streak that dampens support for the Obama administration… Entrepreneurs don't like the government telling them what they can or can't do with their bodies or their wallets," Craig Montuori, a politically active Caltech aerospace engineer, told The Week. If that's what you're looking for, you're not seeing it in the party that controls the White House and the Senate—now or ten years ago, for that matter.

And it's not just local. The Democrats, overall, have lost their edge in congressional polling.

Just as the incursions, arrogance, and presumptions of the Bush years really didn't mean, as we're discovering, an inevitably Democratic future, the failures and abuses of the Obama years don't necessarily hand the ball back to the GOP. Both major political parties have demonstrated an unerring ability to replicate and even surpass their opponents' flaws.

Maybe something about politics is inevitable, after all: crushing disappointment for those who place their faith in the creatures who inhabit government.