I started out my “adult” life, at least to about halfway through college, as a liberal.
But starting in high school, I had doubts; the Dems were a disaster on national security; the economy was falling apart; I started to have doubts that “giving everything to everyone” was anything more than a good campaign promise to people who didn’t think all that hard in the first place.
Those doubts culminated in looking furtively about the polling station in November of 1984 and pulling the lever for Ronald Reagan. And then lying to my parents about it. For the time being, anyway; I obviously stayed conservative; within two years, I was hosting a conservative talk show in the Twin Cities.
So here’s a question: was my political evolution, which was a considered result of a whole lot of reading and thinking and discussion, a sign of growing up and finding myself when it came to my political worldview?
Or a sign that I was just incoherent?
The latter, claims Jacob Weisberg in a Newsweek article called “Why the Public Is to Blame for the Political Mess”
In trying to explain our political paralysis, analysts cite President Obama’s tactical missteps, the obstinacy of congressional Republicans, rising partisanship in Washington, and the Senate filibuster, which has devolved into a super-majority threshold for important legislation. These are large factors to be sure, but that list neglects what may be the biggest culprit of all: the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.
That’s a fairly big thought, there. We’ll come back to that.
Anybody who says you can’t have it both ways hasn’t been spending much time reading opinion polls lately. One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the economic stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course, but polls reflect something more troubling: a country that simultaneously demands and rejects action on unemployment, deficits, health care, and other problems.
They neglect one other things; polls don’t exist in a vacuum.
A year ago, “the public” was wracked with Bush fatigue. With the full connivance of a media that was completely in the bag for Barack Obama (painting him as a centrist, for crying out loud), they had a brief fling with radical liberalism. Then they saw the price tag, and the rot that would set in if Obama’s agenda passed, and changed their minds.
They may be demanding action – but not the action that Reid, Pelosi and Obama want to bring them.
Weisberg is half right. The public had a moment of immature incoherence. It lasted through all of 2008.
We’ll see if people grow up by 2012.