Wednesday, November 03, 2010

An Obvious Point About Political Ideology That Still Needs Stating

America is not significantly more conservative than it was two year ago.

No. Sorry. It isn't. Political ideology doesn't work that way. You don't whipsaw back and forth. If anything, once somebody fixates on something it's impossible to move them thanks to cognitive dissonance. Again, we'll have to see exit polls and data manipulation over the next few weeks as things settle, but one can safely grant that that wasn't what happened. The same America that tossed out the Republicans four years ago and embraced Obama two years ago is the one that swung Republican now.

What people can become in two years or four years is angry, scared, and frustrated. Most Americans believe that their country is on the wrong track, and haven't seen any benefits from Obama's (poorly crafted and poorly targeted) legislation. They won't have seen any benefit from the health care reforms, they didn't get to keep their house because HAMP never worked properly, and as for the bank bailouts that may have saved the economy, well, the less said the better.

Sure, some sources are saying that the electorate yesterday was more "conservative". That doesn't mean people changed their position. It means what we expected: Democratic partisans were dispirited and barely saw the point of voting, whereas Republican voters were activated by the combination of a deluge of corporate advertising and one of the biggest astroturfing campaigns the world has ever seen. As I said in my last post, the "tea partiers" are the same old white, conservative, well-off males that ALWAYS vote Republican; the only difference is that they were given a standard to rally around.

(Obama provided that for progressives in 2008, and then abandoned it in the dirt. I only wonder whether the Republicans will make the same mistake.)

I think that the big story here may well turn out to be Citizens United and the spending. There's some great research waiting to be made about the amount of spending that corps and their various advocates made in various districts and the succcess of the Republican candidate there. Yes, the Republicans have a better ground game and, yes, the Tea Party activated conservatives. But TV advertising still matters a LOT, especially among the older, white Americans that the Republicans were courting. I suspect that it will have made a big difference.

The only silver lining here is that the Republicans have probably taken the wrong lesson from this. They'll think they've received a mandate for conservatism. They haven't. They, like Obama, received a mandate for change. Since the only changes they can make are disastrous and stupid, I suspect that they won't last very long. I could be wrong, and maybe America will fall back into Republican hands only four short years after the Republicans helped destroy its economy.

But, again, the country that voted for Boehner's bunch tonight voted in Pelosi's crew in 2006, and swept Obama to power in 2008. Never forget that.

Edit: Cenk Uygur makes a good point about the Dems over on FDL:

Did you deliver for the average American voter or did you deliver for Wall Street? Come on, look at the numbers. Wall Street is backing to make record profits and bonuses and we’re at nearly 10% unemployment. People aren’t stupid. They got robbed. The system didn’t get fixed. It’s still rigged in favor of the rich and powerful.

Some liberals, progressives and Democrats will accuse me of party treason for saying that. They’re right, I don’t give a damn about the parties. In this day and age, I would never vote for a Republican in a national election because they have shown themselves to be a completely owned subsidiary of the rich and the powerful. They have demonstrated gross incompetence and are purposely derelict in their duty to the voters. But that doesn’t mean I have to be excited about the Democrats. Who is excited by Blanche Lincoln? Other than corporations who bought her years ago.

The Democrats said they were going to bring change – and they didn’t. That is their fundamental error. And that is why they are being voted out right now. But knowing how Washington works, they will not get that through their thick skulls. Instead, they will probably go further toward the jackals on the right after this election. They will cater to big business, Wall Street and the top 1% of this country even more after this election – and then wonder why people don’t trust them.
The bit I bolded couldn't have been better stated. Americans don't just want a change in how they're governed. They NEED a change. The Republicans sort of understand that, which is why Boehner kept blubbering on about change last night. It isn't a change in ideology, it's a change in structure and attitude.

The ironic thing is that Americans WOULD have gotten that change, had the Republicans not blocked it and had Reid and Obama not coddled them while doing so. We'll never know how they would have voted had Pelosi had the votes she needed in the Senate.

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