Monday, April 19, 2010

I've Got The Democracy Blues

"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."-Winston Churchill

Today on Morning Edition, I learned that a large percent of the American people are opposed to ‘an activist government’. Later on, I discovered that another certain amount of people feel a certain way about several other issues. Sorry that I can’t be more specific, but I was busy throwing up in my cereal bowl.

I’m Sick of polls. I’m sick of hearing about them on the radio, and I’m sick of reading about them on websites and in newspapers and magazines. I don’t care what percentage of Americans believe in evolution theory versus intelligent design, I don’t care who wins on American Idol. The fact of the matter is that the same people who elected George W. Bush for two terms also elected Barack Obama. Clearly, the criteria that the masses are using to make important decisions about their lives and the future of our country is not sober assessment and deep consideration of the complexity of different issues.

When George W. Bush was shirking public opinion by continuing the war in Iraq, talk radio was hailing his dedication to ‘principle over polls’. When Barack Obama sticks to HCR in (apparent) opposition to popular opinion, he is ‘ignoring the will of the people’.

I’m glad that opinions about HCR have begun to turn around now that it has passed, but on another hand, I’m deeply disturbed by it. It’s very hard for me not to think of the general American public as a bunch of clones of Kenneth the page from 30 Rock.

And this saddens me. I’m an individualist, and a believer in democracy. Well, maybe not the ‘one person one vote’ kind of democracy; the fickleness, and poor ability of my fellow citizens to pay attention and dispassionately assess issues makes me a firm supporter of our delegate system. We change our minds all the time, but woe is the elected official that has a change of heart. I completely understand an elected official that wins the public’s heart and then squirts some hand sanitizer on her hand and says with a dismissive smile to all of us, ‘Thanks, y’all. I’ve got it from here.’

No wonder Presidents age so fast. The American public is like the pregnant wife that sends her husband out for freezer pizza at midnight, and decides that pizza makes her sick when he gets back home. She’d rather have pickles and chocolate milk.

But, alas, democracy is the best game in town. Even though she makes you go to the store late at night. Even though she hates 'activist' government. Even though she has deep, steadfast opinions about things that can be turned around by a clever catch phrase, a disarming smile, or--in the case of Sarah Palin--nipple zippers. It's better to have the zany Lucy and Ricky relationship we have with her than the Ike and Tina relationship other people have with their governments.

cross posted at Kos


Willie Y said...

Good post Spencer. The American people are fickle bunch. The same people who say President Obama is stepping all over the constitution said nothing when President Bush suspended the constitutionally bestowed right of writs of habeas corpus or bugging all of our telephone conversations. Under Obama the middle class is paying less taxes then they did 40 years ago and still people are complaining about taxes. They praise President Reagen all of the time, but never mention that he raised taxes all but two years in his presidency.

And you are right about polls. They seem to be behind every move that anyone makes now a days. I've found that 40 percent of the people like poll, while 45 percent hate polls. And the last 15 percent thinks they are talking about barber polls. And 10 percent of those, likes barber polls while 5 percent could care less.

Adrienne Troxell said...

Polls are especially annoying when they are misrepresented and misused. Suppose there is a poll about the current drinking age in the US and 62% of people say it should be lowered to the age of 18...but, you didn't read the fine print that 2,500 of the 3,000 people who took the polls are high school may get a different impression on the poll than a person who DID read the fine print. (I don't know if that 800 word run-on sentence made any sense).
No matter what the facts, I agree...polls are annoying.

Lodo Grdzak said...

Still a long way to go till November. And while Americans love to say what they hate or are against--what are they for?

When someone tells you they hate Obama ask them--Who's your choice then? And be specific as to why they're better.

When someone tells you they're against Obama's policies, ask them 5 specific ways that Obama's hurt them or is gonna hurt them. Again, make them be specific.

Americans (like most nationalities) love to complain. So there's a market for bad news and muck-raking in the media. But if Americans will stand for George W's election and subsequent Iraq invasion, they'll stand for anything. That was the death of America and democracy right there! The 2000 election.