The notion that the democrats are suffering from an enthusiasm gap, or will suffer, electorally, from an enthusiasm gap is a misapprenhension, largely based on the notion that voters are loosely divisible into two tribes--liberal/conservative, democrat/republican, Obamaite/anti-Obamaite--where they remain, sometims affirming their tribal identities through massive turnout, sometimes declining to do so, owing to the dreaded lack of "enthusiasm."
I suspect, though, that anyone who conceives him/herself as still aligned with the big D as a party institution or Obama as a leader will show up in November to vote their identification, however tepidly they may feel about the accomplishments of the last two years. And to all those who have said, on OS and elsewhere, that such people should get over their disappointment and bestir themselves to get to the polls, well I'm not here to argue otherwise.
But, I would hasten to point out that many of us who voted for Obama in 2008, as I did, many of us who were wildly enthusiastic about Obama in 2008, as I was (even arguing here on OS with Hillary Clinton supporters), are not simply less enthusiastic about Obama's party and government, not simply unenthusiastic, we are now in the position of being actively opposed to them, precisely insofar as, on matters dear to us, they have proven nearly as bad as, sometimes worse than, the Republicans. Not being members of some fixed political tribe, we experience not an enthusiasm gap (we're still here but we're not happy), but rather a disenchantment gap, a very different thing. We were enchanted into believing that Obama believed in what he said in 2008 and have found that not to be so (YOU'RE not here, so we're abandoning you). This is not a question as silly ol' Joe Biden puts it, of our not getting "every single thing we wanted." What a condescending piece of crap that formulation is--as if we are pampered children favored abundantly by Obama et al and too spoiled to enjoy it. The truth is we haven't gotten ANYTHING we wanted.
Speaking for myself, I wanted an end to the Bush torture regime and instead I got a secret extra-judicial assassination regime aimed at US citizens who have not even been charged let alone tried. I wanted Gitmo closed. Nope. I wanted renditions ended and I got them expanded. I wanted out of Iraq and I got a 50,000 troop exception that is expected to last for at least a decade. I got endless energy devoted to a war without foreseeable end, to be fought with drones that ensure civilian casualties in the thousands. I can't say I actively desired the FBI not to stage dawn raids on war protestors, because I never imagined that would happen under Obama, but that's what I got. I did want and assume that I would get respect for the rule of law, both constitutional and international. I thought that was not much to expect from a former editor of the Harvard Law Review. Evidently it was. At any rate that was yet another thing I didn't get, Mr. Biden. I wanted a civil libertarian and I got a road show Pinochet.
I wanted single payer health care, or at least a public option and I got both traded away at the very start while Obama continued to lie that he was doing his best to save them. I wanted a stimulus that would people back to work. I got an enhanced TARP that provided no accountability for how the banks would use our money. Hence, I got egregious executive bonuses; I got banks sitting on piles of cash while the foreclosure crisis deepened. I got a continuation of free trade policies crafted by and for the multinationals, policies that ensure that 9.6% unemployment rate, or something very near it, will be chronic.
I got no educational reform worth mentioning.
I got nothing.
FINALLY: On the lesser of two evils
Someone on OS said noone should complain about having to choose the lesser of two evils, because that is always the case. I couldn't disagree more. Sometimes one gets to choose between the better of two goods. Just because there is a better and a worse doesn't mean either alternative is "evil," truly "evil" in the ethical and political sense of the term. On the other hand, when that is the case, when either alternative is truly evil, one should never support one just because it is lesser. One should not support that which is truly evil. If I were experiencing an"enthusiasm gap" of the sort people invoke, I would be voting. Even were I experiencing a disenchantment gap that did not extend to a confrontation with evil, I would be voting. But in my view the torture regime of George Bush and the Republicans was truly evil. I could never have supported it or them. Obama's continuation of that regime (including his DOJ's refusal to compensate the proven innocent who have suffered under it) is likewise truly evil and I will not support it. And I certainly will not be supporting an administration that accuses me of being childish for refusing to say amen, or even so be it, to their war crimes. I do not lack enthusiasm for this administration; I lack respect for them; I lack any further tolerance for their policies; I lack any reason to extend them anything but what James Joyce once called "the derision of the desparate."