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Duane Graham of The Erstwhile Conservative is disappointed in what he sees as the signs of the times embodied in Tuesday’s off-year elections. He concedes that it’s good that Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat right wing Republican Ken Cuccinelli in purple Virginia’s gubernatorial race, but he’s not too impressed with the margin of victory, 47.8% to 45.3%, especially since the Republican was so extreme that, among other signs of left-brain impairment, he “thought launching a website to help keep Virginians safe from sodomy was a great idea.”

Blue Girl here at SMP is also disappointed about the elections, specifically about the defeat of a sales-tax issue in Jackson County, and I think that she’s getting closer to the reason this election should make progressives uneasy when she attributes the reason for the defeat of Jackson County’s medical tax to “the fact that less than fifteen percent bothered to turn out and vote.”

We now have some verification that the low-margin of victory  in Virginia that leaves Graham feeling worried was the result of the same phenomena Blue Girl laments in Jackson County. As Kos of the DailyKos put it in his analysis of the McAuliffe’s narrow victory in Virginia, “we can’t win big if our people don’t vote.”

Getting Democrats out to vote is the big issue somebody’s going to have to tackle between now and 2014. You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult. Who wants crazy politicians representing them? And if we’re correct in the belief that Todd Akin handed the 2012 election to Claire McCaskill simply by revealing himself as a radical anti-woman lunatic, it’s equally true that many of the state’s Republican politicians have been working overtime to make the point that there are plenty more like Brother Todd down on the farm. Just ask Vicky Hartzler about what the Chinese are doing with toasters if you doubt me.

There’s certainly no shortage of evidence that GOP lunatics are running the asylum when it comes to Jefferson City. What they have done – or ineptly tried to do – has often served as fodder for the laugh of the day in the national news outlets. A stroll down memory lane dedicated to the last year or so would find such icons of rightwing goofiness as proposed laws dedicated to protecting us from Sharia law and Agenda 21, unconstitutional efforts to nullify federal laws, efforts to suppress access to contraception, goldbuggery, even legislation that would make it illegal to legislate.

What they haven’t done is equally nuts. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted earlier this year in an effort to explain the “party of no” label it had been emphasizing, Missouri’s Republians are nothing if not consistent: “No to health care. No to reasonable gun laws. No to cutting tax credits. No to equal rights. No to ethics reform.”

So, given these high levels of the crazy combined with ineptitude, you’d think 2014 and 2016 would be a waltz for Democrats, wouldn’t you? But maybe not. Democrats will still have to contend with gerrymandered districts made up of those die-hard GOPers who have bought lock, stock and barrel into the story about the Kenyan black man in the White House who wants to take their guns and stick them in concentration camps where they’ll be brainwashed until they’re willing to Sieg heil the communist overlords.

There are, however, sizeable pockets of sanity. I’m willing to bet that sprinkled throughout the state there are lots of reliable Republican voters who may not pay much attention to politics but have stayed with the GOP because it’s a personal or family tradition and they haven’t yet realized or they’re in denial about how crazy it has become. And finally there are all those citizens who would vote Democratic if they only ever made it to the polls. If there’s going to be any changes for the better in Missouri, somebody’s going to have to get the good word out to all these groups in a forceful enough fashion to get them all revved up to trash the crazy by, dare I suggest, next year.

Senator Claire McCaskill and Governor Jay Nixon, the top of the Democratic hierarchy in Missouri, may be fine people and are certainly preferable to their past Republican opponents, but they are, to put it kindly, somewhat lackluster and instead of helping to energize Democrats in Missouri, have concentrated on not poking the Tea Party wingers with sharp objects lest they bite. Good for them, but doesn’t do much to raise the kind of enthusiasm about the issues that brings folks out to vote.

Roy Temple, the new Chair of the state Democratic Party may – just possibly – offer some grounds to hope that a nearly moribund party can get it going again. Word is that he is aggressive and professional with lots of  hard-core experience – although some of it, like the inept Missouri Kerry campaign, may be a bit questionable. He does, though, seem to understand the need to address the dynamics of what he correctly identifies as 20 years of Democratic decline in Missouri.

There’s lots to do. Money to be raised. Effective, targeted, non-stop messaging machines to construct. The unions have worked well with the Democratic party in the state. Are there other organizations where joint efforts can be coordinated better? What about all those Democratic clubs and organizations? I can think of several in the St. Louis area alone – just teeming with Missourians who want to help, but don’t necessarily know how to do it in the most effective way. If Democrats in the state get going now, maybe they can begin to help pull Missouri out of its GOP doldrums. And then we can all sit back and watch pigs soar through the empyreum.

*Slightly edited for clarity.