A Few Facts, and a Few Well-Supported Opinions (11/8/09)

Here is where I shall vent my spleen on whatever political topic might cross my mind on a given day. Comments or responses may be posted to whatever forum might be appropriate to that particular topic.

A Few Facts, and a Few Well-Supported Opinions (11/8/09)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:26 pm

There are some interesting ways these election results are being reported and interpreted that ignore certain facts, and that violate some of my own very well-supported opinions, to the extent that I feel the necessity to comment.

This election is not just being painted as a rejection of Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leadership but is being portrayed as a rejection of liberal social, economic and environmental policy. This interpretation of the results is based on various polls of "likely voters" and on the findings of exit polls, that ask such simplistic questions as whether the government is on the right or wrong track, whether or not we feel the government is doing too much or too little, or whether we approve or disapprove of the performance of the Obama administration and congressional leadership.

The problem with this data, however, is that it is gleaned from an obviously skewed sample and does not reflect the opinions of the American people as a whole. When you assess "likely voters," you are using either a self-description or an assessment based on party affiliation, ignoring either historical voting patterns or such factors as what I see as key in this instance, the reason why you may NOT qualify as a "likely voter." Similarly, exit polls by their nature only interview those who in fact do go to the polls, not those who have stayed home but might have voted had the events of the past two years transpired differently.

Barack Obama was swept into office by a wave of voters who hoped for change and whose vote was inspired by that hope. Many of those voters did not go to the polls this time because it has become apparent that the changes they desired were not only never going to be realized, but that the Democrats and the administration refused even to FIGHT for them. We wanted Medicare for all, not small tweaks to insurance industry regulation. We wanted to break up the big banks, not pump unimaginably huge quantities of cash into them and allow them to pay their obscene bonuses to stock speculators. We wanted credit card issuers to stop their unfair fees and usurious interest rates, not merely shift the fees to other areas and tell us in advance when they were going to go loan shark all over us. We wanted our corporations to hire when they were profitable, not just keep the cash for themselves. We wanted to stop the kind of immigration that takes our jobs, not the kind that picks our vegetables. We wanted American industrial and manufacturing capacity to be restored, not shipped willy-nilly overseas. We wanted foreclosures stopped, not accelerated because home values plummeted due to the actions of the very bankers who caused the crash. We wanted jobs, education, health care, and liberty, voted for these things in droves, and have seen them systematically eliminated from our lives instead. We thought we had won an election, but just got more of the same.

We saw our rich get richer (and much more arrogant and imperious) at an accelerating pace, most often on our money, as we get thrown out of our homes and our jobs. We are told that things are getting better, but they aren't getting any better for us.

This breeds the kind of cynicism that causes people to think that the only thing that the act of voting accomplishes is to perpetuate a deceptive illusion of democracy, when in fact the levers of power in America are quite beyond our reach. People don't participate because they don't see any point in it anymore. Both parties are in the hands of an elite that We the People can never join or even hope to influence, and everything the government has done and will continue to do will be to the exclusive benefit of this elite, or at least will be enacted to ensure that the privileges enjoyed by this elite will never be diminished for the benefit, or even at the dire need, of The People.

The Republicans did not receive any more votes in 2010 than they did in 2008 -- indeed, they received considerably fewer votes, numerically speaking. The change to the results was caused by fewer DEMOCRATIC votes, people who stayed home because they have grown disheartened, disappointed, and increasingly cynical by the manner in which our hopes have been crushed through the demonization of our stronger voices (rendered much more effective by the influx of anonymous corporate cash), by endless compromise, and by bend-over-backwards accommodation of the wishes of those we voted to oust two years ago. It might provide a more enlightening body of data to poll those who voted in 2008 but didn't vote in 2010, rather than the voters or the "likely voters" according to some model or another, if we want to provide a true assessment how the Democrats' fortunes reversed so rapidly over two very difficult, very painful years.

Had Obama fought for what we elected him to do, even had he not obtained it, things would have gone differently. The petulant and obstinate Republican obstruction would have made them viewed as not just enemies of the people, but enemies of democracy, which after all is what they actually are, and every victory the Republicans won against the people's will would have meant hundreds of thousands of more votes for Democratic congressional candidates, as the people grew more and more determined to toss off the yoke of the tyranny of the right-wing and the robber barons whose interests they exclusively represent. But that is NOT what we did. We treated them with a respect they do not deserve, allowed them to keep a hand at the wheel of the Ship of State to continue to steer us onto the rocky shoals, and now we are getting what we deserve for turning our back on our own side in favor of that of our adversaries.

BAD politics, and BAD policy. People respect you for standing up for what you believe. They regard you as weak and despise you if you play the Neville Chamberlain game, as Obama and the congressional Democratic leadership have done.

If Obama thinks that the tragic results of last week's election came about because he didn't compromise enough, he is making a very big mistake and ignoring a lesson we should have learned from very recent history. Bill Clinton found himself in a similar (actually worse -- he lost the Senate, too) in 1994, and rehabilitated himself not via compromise but by standing tall in the face of Republican rapacity. I doubt, however, particularly given his behavior in recent interviews, that Obama has the cojones. He'd better grow a pair quick, though, or disaster looms in 2012. If he gives that Bush tax break back to the top 1% and to the big estates, well, even I'm done with him. If someone like ME won't vote for him, who will?
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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Ferguson Foont
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