In reading all the handwringing and mournful cries about how could we have possibly lost this election, the overriding theme is that there is no overriding theme as assorted pundits cry every which way. We didn’t address social issue enough. We’re too socially conservative. People are still scared to not vote for the black guy for fear of being labeled a racist. We were too soft on Obama. We weren’t clear with our message. And on and on and on.
Despite the multiple gallons of electronic ink that has been poured into the postmortems, one point has been either missed altogether or given short shrift. This stems from the “can’t see the forest for the trees” phenomenon mentioned yesterday. Pundits and political junkies are so overly wrapped up in Beltway thinking they forget that for the vast majority of Americans politics is not the be-all and end-all of their lives. They’d rather think about something else. What little political knowledge they have is far more likely to be of the hand-me-down variety from those who actually do watch the news than watching or reading the news themselves. Simply put, they do not care. The bulk of people in this country do not pay attention to a public political event unless it is catastrophic, one of such power such as 9/11 it can’t help but to be noticed, or is a moment personally affecting them.
An illustration of this from the state y’all love to hate, namely California. Remember when Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor in 2003? It was when then-governor Gray Davis was recalled. Why was Davis recalled? Because his ineptitude in handling the state’s electricity crisis led to rolling blackouts throughout the state. But for this, there never would have been a recall. Davis was kicked out of office because an event transpired directly affecting people, namely their power going off and on, under his watch. There was no other reason. None.
Taking this to the just-concluded election, even with chronic deep unemployment and underemployment, massive debt, the looming trainwreck that is Obamacare and a hot mess of a foreign policy most Americans are sufficiently untouched by these things to pay them much heed. Certainly the entitlement class, those who believe that by birthright, be it skin color, inherited economic status (which by the way includes middle to upper middle-class suburban kids who have no grasp of what a work ethic looks like) or what have you are owed a living, are feeling no pain and will continue to feel no pain as long as Uncle Sam keeps cutting them checks. For the rest, while they have a feeling that despite what the filtered media reports they may be catching are telling them things aren’t quite right, there is no sense of urgency; certainly not enough of one to warrant changing presidents.
One can detail the fallacies of the left’s financial policies – the belief “they” have an inexhaustible supply of money and rich people can not only afford to, but pay for everything everyone else needs — until they drop. They can explain the broken window fallacy in action, using government as the hoodlum throwing a brick through the baker’s window, to the nth degree. They can demonstrate how money spent on taxes does not go to create jobs or be spent on goods and services provided by others, but instead stifles job creation and economic growth through free enterprise, all the day long. It will not matter to others until it hits them directly.
Economically, there will continue to be no sense of urgency until either Obamacare’s reality in the form of slashed Medicare coverages starts adversely affecting a multitude of families, the tax burden for all who actually pay taxes becomes onerous or the government stops handing out money. If the first two happen, they happen. The latter is far less likely to take place unless it is forced, and the only way that can happen would be if House Republicans refuse to pass any more appropriation bills, thus shutting down the government, until a genuine deficit reduction program is installed. That said, it’s doubtful the GOP has the guts to turn off the money spigot and shut government down, no matter the pain it causes, until Obama and the Democrats agree to genuine financial reform. However, nothing else short of another massive terrorist attack or full blown war on American soil will get the public’s attention.
One way or another, it’s going to take a storm before the general public listens to reason shouting, “Can you hear me now?”