Democrats & Liberals Archives

"If Only...", and The Uncomfortable Truth of Democracy

However the Iowa Caucuses shape up, there are likely to be Republicans who are disappointed. I just have to wonder, given the way their politics words, can a Republican voter really ever be happy? Ah, but perhaps that’s not fair. Perhaps its more a question of whether any voter can ever be completely happy, and if so, for more than a brief time.

"If only I had the power, I could get what I want, and the world would be alright."

That's what we say to ourselves, in one form or another, while we watch the events of the political world unfold. I've said it to myself, to be perfectly frank, at times. At the very least, we all feel the pull of that belief, that if folks went and did things our way, the way we think best, things would turn out for the best.

It's not that we're always wrong. Sometimes we're right, but people vote for the folks who are mistaken anyways. I've had my share of those experiences, believe you me. No doubt my rivals in the opposite column believe that the last few elections, with some exceptions, have gone this way.

I'd say, you ought to get used to it. American democratic republicanism is not built on the comfort of its rulers, but rather their discomfort. But you know what? I think the discomfort extends to the voters as well, and it should, really. How you choose to react to that discomfort, I think, is of great importance. It can spell the difference between your party's failure and it's success.

Some measure a party's strength through it's ability and willingness to force its will on its opposition. While that might be able to tell you something about it's relative power, at least in the moment, what you should really look at is the stability of that power. Getting power in a Democracy isn't so much the task as is keeping it.

Look at the Republicans out there, passing voter ID and other laws, deliberately trying to pare down the youth and minority vote, the vote of the poor and disadvantage. They talk about preventing voter fraud, but if you look at the statistics, there are vanishingly few actual cases of people voting as anything but who they are. If we were looking at a plague of reported cases, such measures might be appropriate. Instead, if you will recall, the election that spurred such interest in voter fraud was one where the controversy, oddly enough, had little to do with anybody actually voting as somebody else. Instead, the controversy was the accuracy of the vote itself.

The Republicans seem to be rather lacking in confidence that their margins will be great enough to leave the rolls of young, poor, or minority voters unculled. They'll even suggest that its for the best if those people didn't vote.

Is that for them to say, though? Isn't it rather elitist to dictate such? People can be mistaken, but so can the elite who raise themselves so high on their pedestals. People can be bribed by programs, but what have Republicans done with their tax cuts, and talking to people about the fact that they'll keep their constituents money in their wallet? You can't tell me the Republicans aren't appealing to a certain levels of materialism in their voters- greed, even! So where do they have room to talk?

Which is not to say such bribery of the voter is good, or to concede the notion that this is the only purpose for government aid programs. It can be, in a corruption of the system. The main question should be, is it wrong? Even Tea Partiers seem to like the entitlements they receive, openly speaking of disability checks, keeping people's hands off of their Medicare. Ironic, that protestors of socialist healthcare policy love what amounts to the closest thing we have to a socialist healthcare policy.

But why shouldn't they? The fact is, there was a reason Medicare came into existence, namely that insurance companies would not ensure the elderly. This left them either to to suffer in silence, or come to depend on their family for their healthcare needs. That Medicare has endured nearly half a century at this point is a testament to the fact that it fulfilled a need, and that since then, most have come to agree with the positive nature of the program. That, despite its cost.

The uncomfortable truth for those on the right who seek absolute dominance over America's political landscape, who see the final defeat of Liberalism is that much of what the liberals have done has become as American as apple pie. Even at the height of his power, George Bush found Social Security to be a third rail, for that reason. Some Republicans, though, simply think that their party didn't get heavy-handed enough, and similar thoughts extend to what the party's failed to do in many cases, in terms of government shutdowns, debt ceilings, and the like.

It's a rather strong temptation for the politically committed, and the Republican Party does do political commitment rather well, if nothing else. So, its ranks swell with those who want no further compromise with the Democrats, the Liberals, and the folks they call socialists. They're fuming, they're angry-

-they're out of luck.

It's hard for some who are politically committed to accept, but not everybody's as pure in their civic religion as they are, not as liberal, not as conservative, or whatever. They have to be convinced to support something. They have to be reassured about things, if they seem a little extreme. They have to see better reason for it than some unflattering comparison of once side to something ugly or nasty. You might see them as a mushy middle. Me? I think the mix of your politics is your privilege, as a citizen of this country, and the duty of the person trying to appeal to you is to appeal to you as an equal.

You're not going to find a lot of people who enjoy somebody trying to make them a second class citizen, a scapegoat for some problem. Heck, you won't find many people who willingly take on the blame even when they richly deserve it.

I believe democracy is built around defusing that problem, and that's what this country's done a marvelous job of. In Northern Ireland, where Great Britain tried to impose Protestantism on a Catholic country, we've seen centuries of conflict. In many countries where ethnic groups, faiths, or languages have seen official discrimination, we've also seen long simmering tensions, if not outright violence. We've seen long held grudges again and again become the grounds for another round of stupidity, coverups, and other various kinds of corruption and conflict.

Rarely have we seen real winners out of this. The irony is, both sides will deny the shortcomings of their own politics, of their own culture, as they demonize the other side, so rarely do we see wise, intelligent behavior come out of such conflicts.

The price of Democracy is that you have to allow people the right to determine their own affairs, even if you don't personally trust them to pour pee out of a boot. The alternative is typically one canker sore of a problem. Official and unofficial prejudice against Muslims, Arabs, and Turks in Europe, in case you haven't noticed, hasn't resolved the problems that come from their guest-worker programs, which they initiated to get cheap, plentiful labor for reconstruction, post-WWII. It won't solve the problem we have at our border in the south, either. There are possible resolutions, but any resolution we can live with, that won't do more good than harm, will have to deal with the fact that there are millions of people who have broken the law by coming here illegally, yet at the same time have put down roots, and become part of their community and our economy.

Looking for an easy solution? Well, the easy solution was to not to look the other way on undocumented workers in the first place, not to let a culture develop in the business community that would encourage those immigrants to stay, and the business owners to build their finances around below-legal-market labor. That solution is no longer available, and so there will be some pain in resolving this problem, regardless of what we try to do.

Ah, but we can't send the message that illegal immigration is okay, now can we? Or countenance the invasion from our Southern Border!

Or whatever. As is typical, and sadly inevitable, some trumpet their policy platforms based on what makes their voters feel good, and little else. It's always something of a pitfall, because what sounds good, what makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over as a campaign promise can turn out to be a pain in the ass problem when you actually to carry it out. Just look at the Iraq war. I remember Bush making speeches almost daily to support that just recently ended debacle. Sure it seemed like a nice idea to many. No more Mr. Nice Country. Saddam's regime's days are numbered!

Maturity has its advantages, and I think our politics today need more of it, rather than an attitude of adolescent wish-fulfillment.

Fact is, people's views vary, and sometimes, some people are more right than others. Other times, its a question of personal preference. In some countries, the differences would simmer under the surface, or fracture the unity of the country. Here, though, we have a process for negotiating our differences, one that allows us peaceful resolution of our problems.

If we let it. Unfortunately, some have taken a dislike of one side's politics so far that they're close to threatening a more permanent division, that or trying to take power permanently in some fashion or another. They see their opposition as an existential threat to their nation's good fortunes.

They have the tools at their hands to haggle and negotiate, and come to some settlement, but they've come to believe that compromise is evil, than not getting what they want perfectly will send this country careening over the side into the abyss. The problem for them is two-fold. One is that they seem to be building themselves up towards doing something foolish. The other is that, in many ways, they're already looking foolish and petty, though they'd like to think of themselves as strong and unbending instead. I fear they're denying themselves the capacity that all political parties need in this country to remain sane: the ability to be graceful losers.

But, you might say, why should we be graceful losers, with all that is at stake!?

Because in a functional democratic republic like ours, there's always another day, another confrontation, another chance to get it right. More to the point, you won't become any more infallible (and this is important) or any more thought of as infallible by your fellow American. If your policy, despite everything, is wrong, then as you try to force and force others to bend to your will, you will only deepen people's resentment and resolve to resist.

Even in countries where there is no accountability to voters, citizens and denizens can still reach their breaking point. If anything about the past year has taught us a valuable lesson, the Arab Spring did. Of course, when you don't have the relief valves of Democracy, things get much hairier.

Tyrants and placid elites often present a smooth surface to the casual observer, but like a pressure cooker or a saucepan, the smooth surface can hide a boiling, seething level of chaos beneath. Leave that on the heat too long, and things can boil over.

Long story short, you can't force political order on people, and expect peace. They must take it on as their own. When they do, then there's little you can't do. When they don't, well just look at Qadaffi or Mubarak. These men ruled for decades, and a year or ago, it seemed they would die in office. One food shortage later, one is dead and other may soon follow.

In my particular brand of political philosophy, there's a lot to be said about a system's inertia. To be more clear, there is a point to which people will accept a system that doesn't exactly produce ideal results, just adapt and go along to get along. They'll do this even if things are falling into decline, if things are gradual enough.

There is a point, though, at which the failure of a policy, or the nature of events overwhelms people's natural inclination to just leave politics to the politically interested, the partisans who would be commenting and advocating no matter what the conditions were. This happens even in non-democratic governments, though the resentment and the thirst for change grows stronger and more extreme as time goes on. That's not to say that what the change leads to is better. That's to say that at some point, the change becomes compulsive, and there's no holding it back.

The rich and powerful in this country play a dangerous game, a game of wealth against numbers, counting on their influence to save them from paying the price of their mistakes. However, with a mistake this big, there was never going to be a complete recovery of the system that came before.

I believe that by not allowing the concerns and fears of the average person to be addressed, the rich and powerful, and the Republicans and Democrats who carry the water for them have only set the stage for even more disruptive change to occur, and not necessarily for the better. Want more socialists? Make it clear that Capitalism doesn't care about the little people, that it's little more than economic feudalism. You'll get plenty more. Want stricter rules on your financial activities? If the next financial crisis reaches these shore before the reforms are there to prevent them or cushion the blow, and you'll see them. People won't necessarily think about what they're doing, or weigh their options rationally, but if you deny them what is truly the rational option for them, that is reforming the system to be less hostile to their interests, well then who is to blame for their anger, their fear-driven hostility towards the system?

The Republican party is playing a dangerous game with the patience of the American people. They are assuming that because they could exploit the impatience in 2010, that people really were returning to the fold on conservatism, on American being center right. Rather than build bridges again, rather than relieve the tensions that they helped sow since the Democrats took back Congress, they decided, in their own impatience, to try and force their vision of limited government, cut spending and cut taxes for the rich on everybody.

It might not be clear to them at this time that they overreached, but I believe they have. They should have allowed Obama the chance to succeed or fail on his own, or if they weren't inclined to sit on the sidelines, at least have the sense to co-opt him, in his willingness to strike bipartisan deals. Instead, Republicans and some Republican voters are taking a course of action that boils down to trying to order back the tide, blocking Obama at every turn. If you look at the debacle with the Payroll Tax Holiday, you'll see where this has gone wrong. They've built this oppositional spirit to the point where they aren't even self-conscious of theirs self-contradiction.

The drive to reduce taxes for "job creators" was only tolerated because those of the poor and middle class went down with them, or appeared to do so. It was never solidly popular in and of itself. There's no great swell of pity for a man or woman who makes more than enough to see to their needs, and is asked to give back more to the society at large. The people have always tolerated those who have more because they believe they got something back in the bargain, that allowing some their prosperity meant more jobs, more stable economies, greater motivation to strive and succeed, and to create businesses that served people's interests.

There are good reasons to have a market-driven capitalist system, among them the complexity of seeing to the needs of millions of people with different ideas of what they wanted, different senses of their own needs. I don't disagree with that. But I don't deify the market, or idealize what it does to the extent others do. It is a facet of our society, no more infallible or intelligent than those who participate in it. It's value is in its ability to correct itself, not in some prophetic or supernatural capacity to anticipate disasters and avoid them.

Understanding that "self-correcting" aspect, I think, is critical to understanding such systems, not to mention understanding why such a system needs the rule of law to keep it honest, and its institutions resting on a solid foundation of integrity. You have only to look at the way children behave to understand why we need rules, why we need rewards and punishments that come from the top down, not just those that are the emergent result of what people choose together.

Children are creatures of impulse. What they want, they'll try and get. What they don't like, they'll avoid. What they don't want to do, they'll try and get away with not doing. Whether or not that's wise is besides the point. Only through conditioning, through feedback with others and nurturing of the respect for others do we see them grow up to be upright human beings.

Though I'm not a parent, I was once a child, and I remember trying to get away with things, surely to the frustration of my parents. Kids often lie and conceal their misdeeds, even when confronted with them, because they don't want to be punished, and think that if they just talk you out of it, things won't take an unpreferable path.

The child's ideal world is one in which they can do what they want, without having others question their judgment or limit the fun they can seek out. Of course, if you really let the child pursue that, the result is a nightmare. If you really gave a child that kind of power over other people, the result is also a nightmare. This doesn't change as people get older, rich, or more powerful No human being can anticipate the full range of needs of every other one, and while it seems unfair to compromise your interests for the sake of another, it really needs to be done in general, or otherwise society breaks down. Individual reward cannot be the only law of any land.

We trade, we compromise, we make deals between ourselves. That is what government is about, and what it is needed for. The expedient of leaving everything to one person, or one party, or one chunk of anything without recourse or relief is actually a perversion of that, and as such, it does exactly what you would anticipate it doing: it breaks down the fabric of society. It sows the seeds of division and even war. We need a system like ours, even when it doesn't give us everything we want, in order to make sure that we, in our ordinary, daily lives, have most of what we need.

In two weeks I will have been a blogger here for eight years. What it seems to me is that for all their political struggles against the need for compromise have gained for Republicans is a party badly fractured, straining people's patience with dangerous stunts, and generally fielding candidates that would have been laughed out of the party when I was in college. Rather than truly free or empower the party, the unwillingness to acknowledge realities beyond the party's need to dominate the political landscape has made it a prisoner of the insanely inconsistent rhetorical logic that anybody would have to engage in, in order to pretend like they deserve to win every political fight.

To me, this seems a shame, and it also seems dangerous. There's a lot that gets rationalized that shouldn't be, distortions of the truth fielded that become distortions of the judgment and rationality of the supporters in turn. The Republican Party suffers for this. I mean, look at Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney, and all the things they've contradicted themselves on in the name of political expedience. Think of all the people who have to lie or pass on bad information on their behalf, just for them to have the chance to be elected. When we start making excuses for our leaders that they don't deserve to have made on their behalf, we might guard our leader's continued tenure in power, but we fail our own need for those in charge to be held accountable.

Ideology should be more expendable than that. We should be willing to, and able to change our minds, to confront necessities through our politics, rather than stave them off in order to preserve our precious theories. You're human. You got it wrong. The markets didn't police themselves. The Bush Tax Cuts did not create jobs, much less pay for themselves. Past Republicans, confronted with evidence that their preferred policies didn't work, often relented and allowed tax increases and regulation to take place to prevent further such problems. Unfortunately, today's Republicans have learned inflexibility as a virtue, and I think it's killing their party.

It is not wrong to compromise in a democracy like ours. It's what our government is designed to impose on us as citizens. Why else do we have bodies like the House and the Senate, why else do we choose our national leader in a way that makes sure that every state has a part in it? Why else have that kind of divided chamber, to give small but populous states equal footing with large but sparsely peopled ones?

The constitutional government was an exercise in increasing the power of government while increasing the power of its constraints, and most of those constraints center around requiring the necessity of consensus to move ahead on key issues, to make key decisions. The framers even waited until every state had signed on to the compact before declaring it ratified, even though it's own text said they could ratify it with three-quarters of them signing. They had a large, diversely peopled and constructed country, composed of states with all kinds of different ideas of how the nation should be governed, and to what ends, and no one side of that discussion could have won outright without others walking away from the table. The Founding Fathers created a system that, while it didn't please or hand power to people as they wanted, afforded them enough voice and bargaining power in the new government to help minimize the hostility of that system to their interests.

The Framers went a long way towards resolving their difficulties and differences. If folks really want to follow in their footsteps, then it is necessary for them to face up to the difficult challenge that their forebears did- not forcing their will on everybody else, but balancing your interests with somebody else's, in the interest of coming to an agreement. Ours is not a government designed to be kind to the uncompromising, regardless of how indispensable the given person thinks they are to the future of that Democracy. It's a government built to allow a nation of people who were never all the same, who never thought the same the ability to live with each other in peace. With one major exception, we have been able to do just that. It'd be a shame to mess up such a fine track record, wouldn't it?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at January 1, 2012 10:09 AM
Comments
Comment #333967

“If only I had the power, I could get what I want, and the world would be alright.”

This is a big difference between conservatives and liberals. I understand that if I had the power, things would NOT be alright.

Deploying the power of the state does is not the answer to our problems. Some problems cannot be solves at all; some problems must be solved by the people themselves; some problems can be solved best by people in voluntary association; some problems can be address by government and most problems are best addressed with a combination of the above.

If we consider politics the answer, we will never get the results we want.

I agree that we should not force our will on everybody else. This means limiting the scope and power of government.

Posted by: C&J at January 2, 2012 11:40 AM
Comment #333973


“If only I had the power,….This is a big difference between conservatives and liberals.”

If only I had the power, I would drive homo’s back into the closet. I would put women in prison or give them the death penalty for having an abortion. I would eliminate capital gains taxes. As a conservative, there are many things I would do if I only had the power.

When it comes to big government, conservatives like it as much as liberals and they have proven it. The exception, free Wall Street from it’s enslavement.

The major difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservative Republicans, in recent years, have declared a mandate to rule even when they don’t have the political power to do so. After all, they are the gentry.

Republicans won the House in 2010 and by their reconning, Obama should be rubber stamping their legislation.

Posted by: jlw at January 2, 2012 4:23 PM
Comment #333976

jlw

I would probably eliminate capital gains taxes.

Otherwise - I am in favor of gay rights. Not special rights. I see no reason to celebrate any lifestyle.

Re abortion - most Americans think that abortion should be legal but with significant restrictions, but extremists on both sides demand fealty. Republicans have to be against abortion. Democrats have to be in favor. Serious candidates on neither side can have a nuanced position.

Remember the trouble that Stupak got in with his fellow Democrats for his pro-life position? The dogma cuts both ways. This also addresses your point about governing w/o mandates. A majority of Americans opposed using Federal money for elective abortions. Yet the Stupak language was omitted

This is from the Wikipedia entry re

A poll from November 10–11 by Angus Reid Global Monitor found that 54% of Americans supported “prohibiting the use of federal funding for insurance that covers elective abortions”. Among self-identified Democrats, 46% expressed support. The poll results had a 3.1% margin of error.[23][24]

In a November 12–15 Washington Post – ABC News poll, 61% responded they “support barring coverage for abortions for those receiving public subsidies”; asked whether “with segregated private money used to cover abortion procedures”, as provided by the earlier Capps Amendment,[25] 56% said “insurance offered to those using government assistance should be able to include such coverage”.[26]

A November 13–15 CNN–Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 60% of the respondents oppose public funding of abortion. When asked whether private and employer-sponsored insurance plans should cover any costs of abortion or whether women should have to pay the entire cost themselves, a 51–45% majority said women should have to pay the full costs themselves. CNN said the 6% difference is within the poll’s sampling error.[27]

A poll taken by Quinnipiac University showed that voters opposed public money in the health care bill to pay for abortions by 72% to 23%.

Posted by: C&J at January 2, 2012 8:04 PM
Comment #333980

C&J-
The real problem is, you ARE forcing your will on everybody, by denying them government help and government oversight they believe society needs, in spite of majorities and forces in society that believe we need it.

The point of Democracy is that the people determine what policy is needed, rather than some aristocratic elite. The charm of a Republic like ours is that we don’t have to wait until things really get nasty for changes to be implemented.

It’s been a moderating force for our country, between left and right. Look at other countries, and you’ll see right wings more unapologetically authoritarian, and left-wings more unapologetically socialist in their leanings. Why? Because the way their system is set up, power is not shared, it’s given to one side or another while the other stews in discontent.

I honestly believe that all your party is doing is creating a similar situation to that, one that will only foster greater and greater contempt for what you’re defending, for your politics, as time goes on. Your people will not avoid the blame for the faultiness of reform and change in our system.

Your biggest problem here is that you have nothing positive to contribute as a party. Your policies essentially amount to a deliberate strategy of demolishing liberal institutions with the power you wield, and you’ve gotten less and less coy and restrained about it as time has gone on. You may be moderate, but we’re not electing you to these offices, are we? We’re electing people so far to the right of you, that if they met you and got your real views, they’d be villifying you as a RINO!

You need to wake up, and realize your party has left you, and most Americans behind, and sooner or later that will catch up to them. I’d rather they feel the reckoning sooner, so they can get around to being a political force in touch with people’s needs, and practical policy again. Conservatives aren’t so bad, but they have to be realists as well as idealists to avoid doing harm.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 3, 2012 10:14 AM
Comment #333990

Stephen

Democracy does not mean the people make all their decisions politically. There are basic right that the majority cannot take away and there are practical constraints involved in the delivery of service.

Now let’s talk about what the people want. You rail against “My people”, but consider that Republicans, running on a platform of reduced government, won big in 2010, our most recent election. It looks like the majority does not want that bigger government you talk about.

Government in my view should guarantee basic rights related to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Beyond that, it gets a little dangerous. My idea seems closer to the manifest will of the American people than yours.

Who do you think you speak for? In the last election more votes were cast for Republicans than for Democrats. We will see what happens this year. You seem to assume that “the people” want to turn farther left. This is not correct.

I am a person of the right. You are right that I am often surprised, however that there are lots of people to the right of me. I bet that there are more people to the right of me than there are to your left. The center of American opinion is significantly more conservative than you seen to think. This is the will of the people.

People like me can probably be characterize as moderate. Where doe that leave people like you?

Posted by: C&J at January 3, 2012 5:47 PM
Comment #334015

C&J-
A CNN/ORC poll found Americans believe the economy is the priority to the deficit by a margine of 57% to 16%.

I always find it interesting where political questions settle when all the hype has gone away, and people are just thinking things out for themselves.

You ask the question at FOX news, and the margin is still 50% economy and jobs to 22% Government and spending.

Unemployment is the problem people repeatedly bring up as being most important, and it always has been. It’s also the problem that the Republicans have not dealt with, other than to throw their usual non-stimulative, not to mention unpopular solution at it. Do you even realize how little support there is for upper class tax cuts and corporate tax breaks?

60% of Americans, in a CBS news poll said they would support increasing taxes on millionaire in order to help close up the deficit.

58% supported the payroll tax reduction, and your side actually managed to land itself on the wrong side of that, such that Americans trust Obama and the Democrats to come to their rescue on unemployment benefits by 41% to 34%, compared to the Republicans.

Now you might take comfort in numbers that say cutting services is popular, but the problem there is that equal proportions resist any cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which should be a signal to you that they are keen on seeing you cut somebody else’s government benefits, but not their own.

The numbers in an AP-GfK poll conducted in the second week of December put the lie to your notion that people don’t want government intervention. When asked what the government could do to create jobs, 27% said a great deal, 15% said quite a bit, and 29% a moderate amount. Only 20% said only a little, and 9% nothing at all.

The contradiction between what you could call the rhetorical paradigm and the practical paradigm can be illustrated in the results of a United Technologies/ National Journal Congressional Connection poll taken in November of last year.

Take this question:

New federal spending to try to create jobs by rehabilitating public schools, improving roads and mass transit, and preventing layoffs of teachers, police officers, and other first responders
.

68% considered that very important, 16% considered it somewhat important.

Then the next priotity:

New legislation to reduce the federal deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases on high-income families

58% and 24% on that one. This as opposed to other options that put the onus more on spending cuts, even on spending cuts alone. We go from Obama’s option to yours, and its a difference of 28%, and not in your favor. The most popular legislative priority, according to that poll, is something you’d deride as another stimulus.

People are saying they dislike big government because a bunch of talking heads tell them that’s bad all the time. It’s easy to press that button and get that conditioned response.

Ultimately, though, it wasn’t what you truly won on.

The truth, as I remember it, is that Republicans emphasized jobs in the last campaign. They emphasized that after they got their way, they’d kickstart the economy with all their policy changes. They were promising jobs. Instead, their main public policy drive was the debt ceiling crisis, which most people, at the end, saw as a source of great uncertainty, and not without reason.

On the other hand, they looked at Obama’s proposals last fall, and liked what they saw. Well, they did have one gripe. According to the McClatchy-Marist Poll in question, by a margin of 63% to 18%, they believed his proposals didn’t go far enough, rather than too far.

That said, by a margin of 51% to 38% they believed these policy changes would do more good than harm. 38% said congress should flat out pass it, 33% agreed with passing it with revisions. Only 20% said not to pass it at all, which is the course, for the most part, that Republicans took.

Final question: “Who do you trust more to create jobs: President Obama or Republicans in Congress?”

45% to 41%, in Obama’s favor.

I think you’re going to find that people are fairly disappointed in Congress’s performance, and what had been a political following sea is now considerably less favorable now.

Republicans are in a position, I believe, where they can’t walk the walk on jobs, just talk the talk. You’ve so strangled your other options, through the dogmatic clinging to your policy platforms that your side can’t take the most popular position without gutting their own political support. In other words, your candidates are put in the position of trying to convince voters that being a contrarian towards their wishes on jobs is the right thing, rather than just being able to promise help, like most people want.

I think Obama’s come to the conclusion at this point that indulging your side’s reckless contrarianism is costing him more votes he can’t spare. For him, fortunately enough, the situation is reversed. He can shore up his strength with both people and party by doing the same thing, and he doesn’t have half the convincing your side does when it comes to running on using government to intervene on the side of creating jobs. A politician who can be themselves, who can be more honest, as they run for an office has an advantage over somebody who has to run in conflict with themselves.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 4, 2012 11:25 AM
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