If you watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, you know he’s been hard on Democrats since the 2014 midterms with pieces like “Obama and the Pussy’crats.” It cleverly lays out the fundamental frustration progressives have with Obama and the Democratic Party in general: they’re too timid to speak up for what they really believe in the face of elections. This weakness among Democrats is a common critique of the party and one the GOP has exploited over the past decade and a half by running on more united and streamlined platforms (though their message has become much more fractured in recent years).
At the turn of the 20th century, machine politics and the spoils system dominated public life. White conservatives ran unopposed in the south with single party domination. Republicans and Democrats gerrymandered into safe congressional districts and city wards ruled Congress and city halls unthreatened by public disgust. A small number of large organizations squeezed out competition and dominated banking, energy, and journalism. Voters eager for reform swung wildly from Democrat to Republican back to Democrat in statewide and national elections, looking for something other than what was available. Can you imagine such a scene today? Their answer, the tonic for their political delirium, was a reform movement championed by an unlikely elitist, who always needed a villain to be on the receiving end of his unquenchable energy. .