Election Day Wasn't a Referendum on Obama's Policies
If it was, why do polls show that voters are woefully misinformed about those policies?
If you can believe it, Americans are also staggeringly uninformed about Obama's hallmark health care reformation:
More than half of Americans mistakenly believe the overhaul will raise taxes for most people this year, an Associated Press poll finds. But that would be true only if most people were devoted to indoor tanning, which got hit with a sales tax.
These are important statistics, specifically because we're in the immediate wake of an election in which the overwhelming majority of voters said the economy was their number one concern. That may have been so, of course, but it turns out that most voters were also sadly in the dark about what's actually happening with the economy. Their fear trumps their knowledge, and historically, that has opened up a dangerous disparity.
Why the electorate is so blind to the truth about the president is anyone's guess, though I suspect it's largely because of poor marketing on the administration's part and even poorer coverage in the media, which often choose to focus on mosques near ground zero rather than complex governmental policy. Regardless, the ultimate point is that, just as it would be ridiculous for me to disparage a restaurant at which I've never eaten, we can't proclaim that we've seen a referendum on Obama's policies if most voters have no idea what those policies are.
This is something we've known at least since Churchill said the best argument against democracy is five minutes with the average voter. On many occasions, people vote with their hearts and their fears, not their heads and their informed choices. And I'd venture to guess that some people even vote for things out of hatred for African Americans or whites or gays or whomever, factors that have nothing to do with how best to improve America's common good.
Tuesday wasn't a referendum on Obama. It was a nation of worried, increasingly poor people walking into voting booths and praying that someone, anyone, will help them stop worrying about their mortgages and fill their refrigerators with food again. I'm not sure anyone can say whether those fear-based emotions are right or wrong, but we can say with certainty that terrified emotionality rarely leads to precise perception.
Cord Jefferson is a staff writer for The Root. Follow him on Twitter.