I just read one of tomorrow's Associated Press stories, the latest in a regular series that seems less interested in informing as to get everyone behind the idea that people are turning away from Obama and the Democrats in droves. I can't link the story at the moment (and anyway, you've probably read its echoes a dozen times), but I feel the need to weigh in.
The story reminds me of one of those trend pieces that says, "A new craze is sweeping the nation. People everywhere are doing it! Here's why it's fun. Why don't you come aboard?" Increasingly typical, self-fulfilling groupthink that irritates me as much as it scares me.
Now, I understand that voters are disillusioned with what they view as a disappointing performance on the part of Obama and the Democrats. I feel that way at times. It's a legit sentiment. I'm also aware that midterm elections generally don't favor incumbents. I expect things I don't like to happen. I'm not naive.
But here's the rub: If the AP, and TV and the Internet in general, are to be believed, then what happens in November will be driven by a "fed-up" attitude from both conservatives and liberals. And, frankly, that's just dumb.
Why is it dumb? Because eight, and more likely 30, years of economic deregulation, evisceration of unions and workers' rights in general, endless warfare, economic ruin and institutional prejudice and whatever else is wrong with our country that's making our lives miserable is not going to be fixed in such a short time. And anyone who thought it would be is fooling themselves.
I've taken a lot of heat and more than a few pathetic head-shakes from people who think I'm delusional for still supporting President Obama and Congress. And yes, I agree that they should be doing more and perhaps cling to purer principles when appropriate. But I also realize that politics is a complex machine and our nation is far too large and diverse for anyone to get everything they want. In that respect, I think Obama's doing remarkably well, considering the forces that are out to stop him or make him bend.
And that's where I get annoyed by both the left and the right.
I expect the right to be as belligerent and petulant as they are, because that's their job. Even the Republican leadership long ago gave up any pretense of real leadership and decided that government, especially this administration, is a monster that must be thwarted at any cost. That's why they're literally the Party of No, and why they'll bend into unfathomably bizarre positions to stay on message, however absurd that message may be. I have no respect for them, but I get why their parallel reality has no place for a successful, progressive, black president. Most of the GOP campaigns I've seen, especially from tea-party types, are reactionary ones designed to make you think less about the person running than the fact that they are not the one in the seat now. It's like that scene in Revenge of the Nerds where Booger tells Takashi during a poker game that he needs to replace his four old kings with fresh cards. You know, just because. Also, so Booger can win.
What really grates on me, though, are those people who voted Obama/Democrat and are ready to give up now. Really? So what are you going to do? I'm not trying to be snide; I really want to know. Because I can imagine only two options for those who don't stay home: 1) voting third-party or 2) voting Republican. And ultimately, both will lead to GOP victories. And wouldn't that defeat the purpose?
Again, I can see where the attitude comes from. And our politicians should know that they will be held accountable. But there has to be a better way to do it than to be as reactionary as conservatives - who, by the way, are ready to pounce on this discord. They certainly can't win on their merits.
Anyone disillusioned by our current situation needs to think rationally about the alternative. Who will give us what we want, as fast as we want it? The answer is, nobody. Because economic recovery takes time. Long, painful time, but time. And no matter how ideologically pure of a person we elect anywhere, they will have to work with others, compromise and inevitably take the same lumps the incumbents are taking now. And the process will still grind along.
On the other hand, voting for the opposition will not make it better. Remember, these are the people who bray about government's incompetence and have spent the last few decades proving it. They want nothing more than to reverse the gains and course so badly needed right now. And the prospect of good people losing hope and going down this road breaks my heart. And makes it palpitate.
But maybe there aren't as many of these people as I think. It could be a case of the media hyping it up for a story. Which itself is reprehensible.
Over time, things will get better. Encouraging news can be found every day, even if it's buried. I have a feeling that our current divisions will begin to heal once our prospects improve. In the meantime, don't lose hope. And definitely don't vote out of anger. Primary time is past. We've got to make the best of what we've got. But really, what we've got isn't bad, and I'd hate to see our (meaning our country's) gradual gains stopped because we gave up too soon.
Just something to think about.