Monday, October 22, 2012

Soccer Moms Gone Wild: The Masses Are Asses...But They Decide Elections

Neither does Obama's trumpeting of his work to ensure equal pay necessarily resonate. A couple of months ago, someone called Dee Ralls, a 49-year-old parole and probation worker for the state, at her house to ask about her vote. She said she wasn't planning to vote for Obama, and the next thing she knew, there was a canvasser at her door, giving a big speech about equal pay for women. 
"I said, 'I never had that problem,'" said Ralls, a heavily made-up blonde in a white peasant blouse and peace-sign earrings. "If anything, the reason I was discriminated against was because I was white." 
Before her second husband died of a heart attack, for which Ralls received a malpractice settlement, she got pregnant for the fourth time. With three young kids, the timing wasn't right. She got an abortion, but at the clinic, she was shocked and irritated by all the "slutty people" she saw, who didn't seem to be taking the procedure seriously. 
Ralls doesn't think about politics much -- she doesn't think it affects her. "Oh, but you know, here's something," she said. Her 23-year-old son was just about to age out of her health insurance when Obama's health-care reform extended the time she could keep him covered, she recalled. "That was a good thing," she said. Plus, her boyfriend says Romney's an idiot, "and he's pretty smart." Ralls is pretty sure she'll vote for Obama.
She is what decades of failing public education, and an irresponsible Fourth Estate, have visited upon American democracy.

The final debate is tonight. Like you, I will be watching and wondering how Barack Obama will sell his many successes abroad, while Mitt Romney stands like a professional contrarian and post-truth candidate who is fixated on a version of events--such as the Right's fantasy fictions about a cover-up in Libya and Obama's "apology" tour--that do not exist outside of the Fox News echo chamber.

Guess what? These debates will do little to impact vote choice. Moreover, the final debate on international affairs is on a subject which is too detail oriented, technical, difficult for the general public to understand, and requires contextual knowledge that Joe and Jane Q. Public, the American Idol Honey Boo Boo crowd that they are, do not readily possess. 

As such, this makes the final debate an exercise in style and presentation over substance.  Mitt Romney is going to push it to the limit and do everything he can to put that "black boy" Barack Obama in his "place." While some of the public were put off by Mitt Romney's disrespect towards Barack Obama in the second debate, there is a good part of the mass public who was excited and exhilarated by the former's rank disrespect towards the country's first black president. 

If you doubt this fact, do go and review the comments sections of Fox News, the Free RepublicTown Hall  or any of the other Right-wing propaganda mills.

The archconservative and Right-wing populist base voters, as well as Fox News types, were aroused into a political priapism by Mitt Romney's borderline thuggery against Obama; they remain aroused almost a week later and are swollen with excitement; Romney is going to give them the happy ending in the final debate.

There is a basic fact which followers of political blogs, news websites, those who read the NY Times or other newspapers of record (and folks who watch the evening news, do their own research, and are politically literate) are reluctant to understand and accept. They are not the audience for the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. In keeping with my professional wrestling and politics analogy, we are the "smart marks" who know better. This political horse race and spectacle are for the benefit of low information voters and undecideds. 

Ultimately, those of us who follow political blogs, listen to NPR, religiously watch the news, and think of citizenship as an obligation based upon a critical engagement with the issues and empirical reality are outliers. Politics for the mass public is less about substantive matters of policy than about surface impressions regarding the heart and the pocketbook. And these impressions may very well be incorrect. 

For the White Right, and closeted colorblind racist Independents, Obama is increasingly losing on all of those issues. His election in 2008 was the cathartic moment that allowed racism deniers to find peace with the world and themselves; Obama's defeat in 2012 will be a chance to right the world, get revenge on those "uppity" Negroes, and to fire the black or brown boss at their job--who they resent and cannot stand--on a national stage.

Some of you will continue to suggest that my argument is incorrect, and that I have reached an erroneous conclusion. The data and metrics of great analysts like Nate Silver are to be applauded. The raw numbers and data do speak for themselves and suggest that Obama has a better than average chance of winning reelection. 

However, I am considering the symbolic politics at play here: the weight of American history wants to revert to the norm (she is a country by design that is a White Republic); Barack Obama is an anomaly; the President is subject to a set of double-standards that are fundamentally unfair in a game where he cannot fully claim his successes, and his opposition can engage in all manner of skulduggery to defeat him without consequences. 

The United States was able to dance around the color line and elect a black man as President in 2008. I remain unconvinced if he will be reelected to a second term. Retrospective assessments about a black president's performance in office are going to be fundamentally skewed against him in ways that a white president has never experienced. Such is life in "post racial" America.

The Atlantic's story about the role of  "soccer moms" in the 2012 presidential race fits this framework perfectly. They don't know what they know, but they know it...riddle you that one? The women in this narrative are the ideal typical non-ideological, easily confused, not consistent--and as I like to say "the masses are asses"--voters. But, these are the real people, the median voters, who will decide this upcoming election (and most others). 

As the truism goes, democracy is the worst form of government except for all of the others. People like Dee Ralls, and the other women in the Atlantic piece The Revenge of the Soccer Moms, are further proof of said truth. 

Apparently, she is still going to vote for Obama despite her misgivings. But, what of all of the other people who are not? And if a low information voter like Dee Ralls, a person whose contradictory and inconsistent views are straight out of a textbook on American politics, can be swayed by her "smart boyfriend" to vote for Obama, how many other voters are going to be pushed the opposite way by "influentials" and other close associates?

Are matters really that dire? Or am I being too hard on the low information, the masses are asses voters, who collectively are going to hand the election to Mitt Romey? 

Teach me something: is there any data which suggests that this is all a gross overreaction on my part? Will The People save the Republic or was she lost a long time ago?

I bet Edward Bernays, Leone Baxter, and Clem Witaker are smiling down on all of what they helped to create.


Anonymous said...

Although I will try to remain optimistic until election day, I sadly accept your projection that Obama will lose. I think the so-called undecided voters are too cowardly to say that they will vote for Romney. Before Obama was elected, whites would say one thing and go in the voting booth and vote the opposite way. One example of this is when Tom Bradley ran for governor in CA. In the run-up to the first debate, the pundits were saying debates never have an effect on voter choice. However, for the first time ever, the debates are supposedly making a difference this election. Romney has also closed the gender gap. I suppose some women saw his act during debate one and viewed him as the take charge knight-in-shining armor who'll save the day after the bumbling and inexperienced black man couldn't cut it. Of course everything Romney said must be true simply because he said so, right? White women will vote against their own self-interests; this was demonstrated in CA when they voted in favor of Prop 209 to end affirmative action. The majority of white women voted against it because they thought unqualified minorities were getting opportunities they didn't deserve.

nomad said...

"Will The People save the Republic or was she lost a long time ago?"

Now that is a big non sequitur. As if the Republic, such as it is, could be saved by Barack Obama. I feel possessed cause right now I'm SMDH, face palming and LOL at the same time.

chaunceydevega said...

@The ghost of the Bradley effect or is it more like a zombie?

@nomad. I couldn't resist the rhetorical flourish.

Black Sage said...

Will The People save the Republic or was she lost a long time ago? -ChaunceyD

To save something specific, in this case the Republic, is to say that it’s already in existence. Conversely, it’s impossible to lose something that never existed in the first instance.

What we have on our collective hands is an overextended experiment (American Republic) now in its decadent stage that has obviously went horribly wrong.

makheru bradley said...

After raising over $900 million, Obama has to borrow $15 million from Bank of America. The Wall Street oligarchs have definitely dumped Obama. We need look no further than Romney's top contributors.

1 Goldman Sachs $965,140

2 Bank of America $844,734

3 Morgan Stanley $768,216

4 JPMorgan Chase & Co $749,918

5 Credit Suisse Group $588,841

The Military-Industrial Complex appears to be doing Obama a favor by not announcing pending layoffs before election day.

[On Friday (9/28), the Obama administration reiterated that federal contractors should not issue notices to workers based on “uncertainty” over the pending $500 billion reduction in Pentagon spending that will occur unless lawmakers can agree on a solution to the budget impasse, negotiations over which will almost definitely not begin until after the election.

Contractors had been planning to send out notices because of the — Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act which according to the Department of Labor requires “most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.”]