Monday, November 8, 2010

Political Cognitive Dissonance

I've been meaning to post something about the elections for the past week, but really don't find anything that noteworthy to say that hasn't already been said.  So, some of what I think are the best already-been-saids:

Drew Western:

The president and his advisers misinterpreted both the meaning of his election and polls showing that Americans wanted ‘bipartisanship.’ The reality is that people who are out of work couldn’t care less about who is bickering with whom in Washington. They care about what is happening to their lives and families.
Gail Collins:
I spent the election in southern Ohio, which was full of signs telling people to vote against Nancy Pelosi. She made an easy target — San Francisco liberal, first woman, and I will admit that she has a strange, semi-robotic way of talking. But I want to give her a going-out-of-power salute. She stood up for her principles. The health care bill would never, ever have become law if she hadn’t given the alpha males the spine to keep going. I know you’re not crazy about it, but I believe it’s going to be Barack Obama’s great legacy. And although nobody will ever give her credit for it, Pelosi moved a deeply reluctant House forward on ethics issues.
Greg Anrig:
The most reliable finding in political science literature is that voters punish incumbents when elections occur during a period of high unemployment. That conclusion was reaffirmed Tuesday, and it will be again in two years if the president and Congress follow the likely path of fixating on deficit reduction rather than job creation.
Ezra Klein:
One reason I don't like playing the pundit's game of offering strategic advice is that I don't believe anyone really has a handle on what works in American politics. I certainly don't. What we can say is there are certain patterns in American politics -- presidents tend to lose seats in their first midterm election, and the economy seems to drive a lot of votes -- and they tend to afflict lots of different presidents who seemed pretty capable at one point, and in many cases, won the next election and retired as masters of the political game. And since I think policy is a much less uncertain field, if I were in the House, I'd much rather lose my seat after making America a much better place than lose my seat after either failing in my efforts or never trying at all.
 And best of all, Hertzberg:
As for "the American people" themselves, it seems clear enough that their rejection of the Democrats was, above all, an expression of angry anxiety about the ongoing economic firestorm. Though ignited and fanned by an out-of-control financial industry and its (mostly) conservative political and intellectual enablers, the fire has burned hottest since the 2008 Democratic sweep. By the time the flames reached their height, the arsonists had slunk off, and only the firemen were left for people to take out their ire on. The result is a kind of political cognitive dissonance. Frightened by joblessness, "the American people" rewarded the party that not only opposed the stimulus but also blocked the extension of unemployment benefits. Alarmed by a ballooning national debt, they rewarded the party that not only transformed budget surpluses into budget deficits but also proposes to inflate the debt by hundreds of billions with a permanent tax cut for the least needy two per cent. Frustrated by what they see as inaction, they rewarded the party that not only fought every effort to mitigate the crisis but also forced the watering down of whatever it couldn't block.

1 comment:

  1. Some good comments there. I go with Ian Welsh:
    "The Democrats gained control of both Congress and the Presidency in 2008. They then pursued ineffective policies which didn’t fix the economy. They increased deportations of Hispanics. They restricted abortion rights for women. They spat on gays repeatedly. They betrayed unions. They gutted civil rights, going even further than George W. Bush (who never said he had the right to assassinate Americans.) They saved bankers who then rewarded themselves with record bonuses and salaries while average American wages actually declined...This isn’t a repudiation of liberalism or progressivism or socialism (Americans wouldn’t recognize a socialist if he gave them real universal healthcare) it is a repudiation of a Democratic party which failed to fix the economy and which became identified with bailouts for the rich."