People, in general, are far more likely to get active against injustice than active for justice. When things are good they are quiet, or they find something else to get angry about.
The 2000 election was decided, in large part, on “wedge issues” like guns and abortion, where minorities of the public could be made angry enough to vote. Those who had seen gains from the Clinton-era economy were less motivated. The result was close enough for a Republican court to steal, and we’ve been paying for that ever since.
Every major political change is motivated by anger, even if it is clothed in positive garments. Franklin Roosevelt’s theme song was Happy Days are Here Again, but the days were anything but happy, with unemployment at nearly 33% and hunger stalking the land. Barack Obama ran on change, on “Hope,” but what elected him was the fact that the economy was growing at a rate of -9% during that campaign.
So in every important election the battle is joined to tap into anger. The media is always surprised by this, and Democrats often suck at it, but anger is what drives turnout and turnout is what wins elections.
Every generational cycle has echoes of those that came before. We like to talk of Hillary Clinton as the “new Nixon,” we compare ISIS to Hitler, and we see VanillaISIS or police brutality in terms of the KKK. But I have long believed that the era ours is most like is that of the 1890s. It has the same sorts of problems. Rapid change, huge disparities of wealth and power, and a system that seems to be rigged in favor of the “big boys.”