Was Martha Cokely The Wrong Candidate?
On the Vacillations of an Ignorant electorate
The recent democratic defeats in three major state wide races have led many commentators to argue that the Democrats should listen to the people. The question is which people? And what is their message? The answers to these questions alas, remains a mish mash of incoherent blathering that amounts to little more than the mumbo jumbo of frustrated and clueless people engaging in a public temper tantrum. The polls show their confusion. President Obama still enjoys the confidence and affection of the majority of Americans, but the numbers also reveal that a commanding majority of the electorate believes that we need less of a role from the federal government.
Yet these are the same people who want the government to rescue them from the economic crisis caused by the managers of the privately owned sector of the economy in the absence of rigorous regulation. They also want the government to micro-manage the affairs of business to the point of setting salaries and bonuses – as we are witnessing in the hue and cry to punish the banks and Wall Street brokerage houses – at the same time that President Obama is being denounced as socialist/communist /fascist dictator for the rather tepid measures he has taken to regulate the reckless greed of the banking sector.
Yet Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, a left leaning liberal, points out that almost half the Independents in Massachusetts said they felt “Wall Street has more influence in Washington than Main Street.” But then they voted for Republicans? These are inconsistent positions. It seems that a large part of the American electorate, people who are legally adults, never learned a lesson that every child is expected to know: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too!”
The only way that the President can quickly reduce the unemployment rate is by direct government intervention into the economy in the form of stimulus packages. And we need only look at the response to the 700 billion stimulus program he has already instituted to recognize what a thorny path that has been. First off, the economists and public officials cannot agree on whether the stimulus was too much money or too little.
The recently anointed Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, says the stimulus package should have been twice as large; while the right wing “free market” ideologues like Dick Arhmey insist that the President’s stimulus program is hastening the destruction of American capitalism. And the Republicans in Congress, who approved all of George Bush’s wacky policies that led the country to the brink of disaster, have opposed every effort to rescue the nation from the consequences of those policies by the Obama Administration.
The public’s response has been mixed: those who benefited from the stimulus effort love it and those who have not loathe it. We even hear that workers who are laid off in the private sector resent the fact that stimulus money was used to keep public servants such as cops, fireman and school teachers on the job. Do these people really believe that losing vital public servants will make their communities better or their lives easier?
Hence the Republicans will take comfort in theses election results at their peril. Any analysis of voting patterns in these elections will show that they are being largely decided by the independents. Since Republicans and Democrats are entrenched in their party’s positions, the independents are loose cannons who can decide elections. And their mercurial behavior, which is based far more on passion than reason, is impossible to predict.
The Angry But Untutored Mob:
Boobus Americanus representin!
Furthermore, we can safely conclude that anybody who hasn’t taken sides in this contentious political environment, when the issues are momentous and clearly defined, is either abysmally ignorant or not really serious about political and economic affairs. Thus they can be swayed by any kind of outrageous propaganda, even sheer nonsense, such as equating President Obama’s plans for health care reform with “death Panels” and “Nazi concentration camps.”
Hence elections are more and more becoming the province of spin doctors and bunko artists. And when you marry the carefully cultivated corporate financed paranoia about the role of government in our society with mass ignorance or indifference, we have the preconditions for the kind of political chaos that is virtually impossible to plan for without abandoning all principled positions and basing your program purely on political expedience.
It seems that at present the driving force among the independents is to lash out at the party in power. Beyond that there is no coherent ideology or political philosophy among this group. That’s how it was possible for a Republican ideologue to run as an independent. Alas, the old adage is true: People who don’t stand for something will fall for anything! This explains the mindless vacillations of the independents, which appear to be driven by a combination of blind rage and frightful ignorance.
The fact that any Republican could win a Senate seat that has been held by the Senate’s most liberal Democrat for half a century is of itself a crushing defeat. But when that candidate is Scott Brown, a Republican ideologue who made it clear that he would kill the President’s Health Care Bill, the great social project of Senator Kennedy’s political life, this defeat is an unmitigated disaster not only for the Democratic Party, but for the American people at large.
Watching Senator elect Brown at his press conference the next day, it is not hard to see how he managed to pull of this stunning victory. A former model that looks like a movie star, he is charming and articulate in the same way as Ronald Reagan, and he seems just as adept at talking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he says that he is going to look out for the interests of Massachusetts, but on the other he swears that he will never be involved in any back room deals.
This is nonsense! You can’t have it both ways. He will be only one vote in a hundred, and one does not have to be a mathematician to figure out that this means he will have to engage in horse trading and back room deals in order to bring home the bacon. As a member of the Massachusetts State Senate, where he was one of only five Republicans out of forty senators, the New US Senator knows all too well how the game goes.
So our newly minted reformer is already engaging in double talk, which suggests to this writer that he will soon be engaged in double dealing once he is ensconced in Washington. Considering that the Republicans are offering nothing different …and nothing more, than they have offered in the past, but Martha Cokely was offering something different and considerably more, alas what the Bay State debacle and the other Democratic defeats prove more than anything else is that Thomas Jefferson was right: An ignorant electorate will elect and return the worst people to power!
Harlem, New York
January 27, 2009