This will be a relatively short essay. No photos. No links.
Someone brighter than me recently hit upon a simple but insightful truism regarding American “major party” politicians: Republicans fear their base, Democrats hate theirs.
At least for the last generation, Republican politicians live in more or less constant terror that their base will rise up against them if they don’t take the hardest-Right, most frothingly partisan position available (or which they can create). Or, if they’re already inclined towards John Bircherism, they cruise along in the smug assurance that they can be found with the proverbial “live boy or dead woman” and it won’t matter one whit to their forgiving base (as long as they, the politician, admit that he’s a sinner and rails against whatever the Democratic cause de jure is).
Democratic politicians, on the other hand, treat their base like the crazy uncle who lives in the guest room and whose Social Security checks help pay the household bills. They need them around in order to keep those checks coming in, but they live a life of dread and resentment: dread that nutty Uncle Lonny will pick the lock on his bedroom door and shamble into the living room at the next dinner party and strike up conversations with the decent people in attendance, and resentment that they have to keep this burdensome and onerous relative around as the bills, alas, keep coming in and must be paid.
Of course one of the ironies of this dynamic, of these relationships, is that these days the Republican base are much more likely to be radicalized, to resort to violence, to behave like political jihadists (which should embarrass or repel most people within shrieking distance), which your basic Democratic base member merely wants to be able to go to the doctor without risking bankruptcy, corrupt Wall Streeters to be held no less criminally culpable as petty pot dealer from whom he, the Wall Streeter, buys his grass, and wants gay people to not get beaten or bullied to death. All in all, rather modest demands, as demands go. Also, Democratic base members are more likely to spell check their placards before putting them on public display.
Nevertheless, these principles hold true. Thus the average Republican politician during the average election season has little trouble “firing up” his or her base because during the course of their life in public office, or, if they’re a newcomer, during the course of their campaign, they’ve said, “How high?” whenever their base has screamed, “Jump!” The Democrat, on the other hand, has to “rally” their base and “fire them up” because during the course of their time in office they’ve kept that same base at arm’s length (at best) and when their Democratic base has yelled, “Jump!” their officer holder has said, “Sit down and shut up!. And don’t forget to support me (read: send money) come next election. And don’t forget to vote!”
So there you have it.