Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brown vs. Coakley: Gullible Voters & Phony Populism

Another Example of America's Political Paralysis & Decline

Maybe this is just a bad dream. Later today, voters in Massachusetts will decide who will fill Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. Democrats find themselves desperately fighting to hold on to a Senate seat that they have held for 4 decades in a State that leans Democratic. Worst still is the fact that the Republican opponent, Scott Brown, is a Tea partier, and former nude model. Really? This is who they have been frantically attempting to fight off over the past few weeks? SNL could get enough material from this to run an entire series of skits. This would be hilarious if it were not so pathetically sad.

Voters in Massachusetts and beyond now seem ready and eager to turn back the clock and give their support to the same political party that destroyed the U.S. economy just over a year ago, and nearly gave us the collapse of the financial system and the end of America as we know it. Yet folks want more of the GOP. I guess they want to give Republicans a chance to finish the job (and finish us off as a Nation). We aren't even out of the woods from the last crisis they gave us, and Americans already have a taste for more. The Republicans had 10 years (counting the last 2 years of Clinton’s lame duck period in office), and they thoroughly wrecked the Country. They somehow believe that the a Democrat, who happens to be the first Black/biracial President, should be able to magically turn things around in less than a year. President Obama hasn’t even been given a full year yet, and brain dead voters already want to purge him and his Party. Repairing the damage of the last 10 years would take at least 2 full terms. This is yet another indication that we are unfortunately in a backwards, center-right Country…an ignorant backwards center-right Country.

Whenever these situations arise, I lose more faith in the American system and in the American people. I have no faith in the American voter. None! Yes, the Democrats put forth a weak, mediocre candidate (unfortunately you have to have charisma in the political game…it’s more important than substance), and they ran a lousy campaign, as they so often do. But that’s not the only factor here. In this race, the right wing media propaganda machine decimated the Democrats, despite the DNC spending tons of money on ads. Once again, Democrats have been outfoxed. They have done a poor PR job and are paying the consequences. This has become the norm for Democrats.

But this race says more about the fickle electorate, and provides insight into America’s future. For me, it represents further confirmation of Americas continued decline. With a government that can no longer function or function effectively- essentially paralyzed- the U.S. will continue to be stuck in a sort of political malaise for the foreseeable future. That's basically what we have right now... a government that is unable to work effectively. Gridlock is the new normal. That doesn’t bode well for the Country. Republicans - who vote as a block/seldom breaking ranks- understand that with 41 votes in the Senate, they will be able to stop President Obama’s agenda. They will block every piece of major legislation that Obama pushes. So essentially, Obama has reached a sort of weakened lame duck status already, after just one year as President. Meanwhile, as the nation is stuck in its political paralysis, or God forbid as the clock is turned back, the rest of the developed world and even the developing world, will be on the move, leaving the U.S. behind.

Part of what’s behind Americas decline is an unengaged and often uninformed electorate. Voters have become irrational. There have always been these irrational voters, but there seems to be more of them now, and this band of idiots gets to make decisions for the rest of us….impacting real lives. In many cases it no longer matters which candidate has the best ideas, has the best track record, the intelligence, the vision, or has a platform that will benefit the average citizen. None of that matters anymore. Why? Because an uninformed or misguided electorate can’t make heads or tails of what’s really happening. They aren’t motivated by facts, or actual policy positions. Instead they are fueled by blind anger, propaganda, fear and Party identity....more than anything else. In fact, political candidates, especially Republicans, have figured this out over the last few years and rarely run on platforms, facts, or policy positions. This is boring stuff and voters rarely react to it in any positive way. This is largely because they aren’t able or willing to invest the time in learning the issues, and separating the facts from the propaganda. It's too much work.

Republicans are tapping into the general sense of anger...as misguided as it may be...and they are taking advantage of the short memories or just plain ignorance of voters. Instead of running intense, fact-based/issues-based campaigns politicians in big elections have resorted to dumping millions of dollars into private PR firms for ads to manipulate voters, often with misleading propaganda. They also spread fear and misinformation via news networks and talk radio and in print. And they do this because this is what the lazy American voter responds to. And yes, I see this much more often on the Conservative side, although so-called Progressives engage in some of the same nonsense- Move-On.org is notorious for these kinds of tactics.

Culture is also playing a part here… the fact that we have a Black/biracial President is having an impact on voter behavior, even when Obama himself isn’t on the ballot. Yes, race matters. It’s all about stopping his agenda. And as I mentioned earlier, there doesn’t seem to be the same willingness to allow this President to govern for a reasonable period of time, as has been afforded other Presidents (white Presidents) throughout history. If Obama were white, he would be catching some of the same Hell, but the opposition to him wouldn’t be nearly as intense and more Americans would be fighting off any Republican attempts to freeze his agenda and paralyze the Country. I think a White Democrat would catch more of a break from white independent voters at this point. But as I mentioned in mid 2009, voters are blaming Obama for an economy that he didn't ruin. It's someone else's mess.

Essentially, I am calling out the American voter. I hate to say it, but collectively, American voters are boneheads. The nation is now beginning to deal with the consequences of a mediocre, misguided, and in some cases, a failed public education system (where critical thinking isn’t taught aggressively enough…nor is civics/government, history, world politics, etc). And I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck with energy independence, meaningful healthcare reform, a sensible foreign policy, reigning in corporate abuses, fixing the financial system, labor rights, consumer protection, investing in education/children, investing in the American people, a meaningful social safety net that preserves the dignity of every American, fixing the infrastructure of the Country, saving the economy long-term, creating green jobs, advances in science and technology, keeping America at the forefront, protecting the least of these, etc. None of this is going to happen- at least not in any meaningful way in our lifetimes…not if the Country stays on the same course…. Not without a fundamental shift in American thinking.

Even if Martha Coakley squeaks by in a nailbiter, the Republicans could rightfully still claim victory...under the circumstances. The message would be sent loud and clear... not necessarily that Americans are against wholesome Progressive bread and butter values... but that they have fallen for the Rights propaganda...and that Democrats have a lot of work to do when it comes to addressing their profound weaknesses & disadvantages in media and PR. I personally don't think they can fix it by November.... particularly when they are clueless to the fact that this is a big part of the problem.

I still believe... even in a Centrist... or center-right Country, that if the playing field were fair and level, most Americans would embrace core Progressive values. One of Obama's problems is that he has allowed his agenda to be hijacked by all sorts of side issues and Liberal causes, like Gay "marriage", which has scared off some independent voters. I personally support the idea of civil unions...and robust legal protections but the real bottom line is... this issue is not among the top 10 or even 15 issues that are the most pressing for me. I don't have a horse in that race.

President Obama is also attempting to tackle the wrong issues at the wrong time.... instead of pushing initiatives that he can get through, even with a few drops of bipartisan support... creating a list of successes that he could build on. Instead, he is considering pushing major immigration reform as his next big initiative...something that is extremely dead on arrival. Again, an example of bad counsel from his advisers.... to push the wrong initiative at the wrong time. He will expend a lot of political capital on an initiative that, in the end, won't bear much fruit.

My advice to thinking Americans…. Is become as self-reliant as possible. Be ready for the next crisis...the next bubble (and yes, there will be more). You can’t count on a functioning, effective government anymore to look out for you. Haiti could visit the U.S. anytime, anywhere. Yet, there is an anti-collectivism running rampant throughout the Country that says, you're on your own (unless you are on Wall Street or you're rich and white...in that case, you'll be taken care of).

I still don't want to believe that Americans are this gullible and fickle.

6 comments:

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Hi AI

I hear you. One huge aspect of the gridlock that you refer to is in this political system we basically have Choice A and Choice B -- and that's it. If we had viable Choice C, Choice D, Choice E and Choice F to select as leaders and for solutions to our public policy problems would it make a difference? I'd like to think so. Having perspectives other than Republican or Democrat is in my book a good thing. Most people could care less if problems A, B or C are solved by partisan Republicans or Democrats. They just want the problems solved! What I'd like to see are politicians and political parties who have the public good in mind and who are problem solvers instead of bickering partisans who have been bought off by corporate or some other interest.

Would making fundamental changes in the System so that we have genuine, multiparty competition in the US happen in my lifetime? Maybe. But we gotta start somewhere.

You know I've been trumpeting the third-party and independent banner for quite some time now. That's where I am putting my energies and commitment. It's not gonna change the system overnight. But maybe if enough of us average citizens say enough with the two-party system and demand something better and more representative of the wide spectrum of political opinion in the populace we'll get somewhere. Maybe not next year or in the next ten years. Maybe it will take a generation.

rikyrah said...

she was a bad candidate who ran a lousy campaign, and acted as if she was OWED this Senate Seat. folks don't like to think of their votes as a 'coronation'.

rikyrah said...

but, I'm feeling you about the idiocy of the voters.

Andre said...

You hit it on the head, AI. I truly believe that the American voting system is one of the most dangerous on the planet. The qualifications are minimal, the participants are (in large part) grossly uninformed, and the consequences of their decisions are far-reaching. Despite the significance of the responsibility, people still use EVERYTHING BUT FACTS to make guide their votes. It's insanity at it's finest.

If electoral candidates could not indicate their party affiliation, could not smear their opponents, and were required to simply state their positions, how would that affect the way people vote? I can guess: "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe."

Andre said...

"Despite the significance of the responsibility, people still use EVERYTHING BUT FACTS to guide their votes. It's insanity at it's finest."

Another damn typo. I'm really starting to suck at this whole spell check thing.

Anonymous said...

couldn't have said it better myself. Those angry white voters in Mass knew exactly what they were doing when they voted for Brown. They knew that this would destroy Pres Obama's chance of getting anything done, and as a result he would fail!!! I'd also like to say just how happy the white media/ pundits are about this Republican win. They're not even trying to hide it anymore. Every time something happens to make Obama look inept, the joy they feel at the thought of his demise is so bloody obvious it's pathetic!!