The 2018 off-year elections are our best chance to fundamentally change the political landscape. A major surge in Democratic Party turnout could take back the House and a number of state houses, and perhaps even flip the Senate. In presidential elections, roughly 60%, +/- 3%, of eligible voters vote. In off-year elections, roughly 40%, +/- 2%, vote. If the Republican voters are unmotivated or disappointed in Trump or simply follow their usual pattern of behavior, while Democratic voters are unusually motivated, it does not take a mathematical genius to calculate the possibilities. All of this assumes that no one’s mind is actually changed, just that many more normally Democratic voters bother to vote. My reason for touting Obama as a useful motivator has nothing at all to do with my judgment of his policies or performance as President and everything to do with my evaluation of his capacity for bringing millions of low-energy voters to the polls. Nor do I think that if he plays that role he will also somehow co-opt or influence the policy preferences of those who vote.
I agree with everyone [including myself] who praises the grassroots coast-to-coast movement now being born in America. This must be kept going, it must be enlarged, it must be developed, and it must put the wind in the sails of progressive candidates and leaders at the local, state, and national levels. What is more, all of these movements [for they are many, not one] must look beyond 2018, even beyond 2020. We must define long-term goals that seem unattainable now but may be well within our reach in four, six, or eight years [when I will be 91, sigh].
That being said, I remain convinced that Obama, if he can be recruited, is our best GOTV machine in 2018. We can succeed without him, but with him our chances are better. Remember, in the short run, we do not even need to change people’s minds. We just have to make them get off their asses and vote.