We can change America's political map by letting voters mail it in.

Author:Glastris, Paul
Position:Editor's Note - Editorial

In this issue of the magazine, there are no stories about Donald Trump. There aren't any about Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, either. Or about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O'Malley.

It's not that we don't think the 2016 presidential contest is important. Of course it is. Indeed, on our website you'll find some of the shrewdest up-to-the-minute analysis of the race available anywhere.

In our print magazine, however, we tend to steer clear of subjects the rest of the press is already talking about incessantly. Instead, we prefer to focus on the big, over-the-horizon issues that deserve immediate attention but aren't getting it.

In the realm of politics, the biggest under-examined issue right now-next to the possibility that the Republican presidential nominee actually wins in November, a subject for another day-is what happens if the Democratic nominee wins but the GOP retains control of at least the House. The answer, most probably, is more gridlock, more public cynicism about government, and little progress on the great issues facing the country, from a declining middle class to aging infrastructure to rising retirement costs.

The reason for this (quite likely) scenario is a political dynamic rooted in changing demographics. The voters who provided Barack Obama with decisive wins in 2008 and 2012-young people, unmarried women, minorities-typically don't cast ballots in midterm elections at anywhere near the rate they do in presidential years. Meanwhile, the Republican base, though in relative decline, is made up of groups-older white Americans, married couples-who typically vote in every election.

We've now had several cycles of this seesawing turnout pattern (Democrats haven't won a majority of midterm voters since 2006). Add to that the GOP's control of redistricting in 2010 and the self-sorting of Democratic voters into compact geographic areas, and voila, you get the situation we're in now. Republicans haven't won a majority of voters in five of the last six presidential elections. Yet they've built up what seems like an impregnable majority in Congress.

Democratic political professionals are perfectly aware of this dilemma. But they don't talk openly about it. "Privately, some backbench Democrats express frustration that the leadership has no plan to try to recapture the majority," writes Matt Yglesias of Vox.com. But, he adds, "In their defense, it's not like anyone outside the leadership has a great plan either."


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