Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stupid Voters

By Alan Caruba

It’s a comment I hear all the time these days. “The voters are stupid.”

I am not sure that those saying it mean literally that the voters have a low level of intellect or academic achievement, but rather that they mean voters seem prone to making their choices based more on emotion than on a serious examination of the candidate’s qualifications and character.

The best example of this was the 2008 campaign in which a candidate was presented in much the same way companies seek to “brand” their product or service, repeating the same message (Obama’s was hope and change) until it becomes part of the consumers’ decision-making process. It’s why we buy a particular brand of cereal or car. We have come to associate values with it that go beyond the taste or the look.

Barack Obama had served barely two years in the U.S. Senate before he made an unprecedented leap from there to the White House. He was, for all intents and purposes, an unknown quantity with a legislative record—if anyone bothered to check—that was a straight Democratic Party line vote.

In his earlier incarnation as an Illinois legislator, he had voted “present” so many times it was clear he was avoiding taking any position he regarded as politically dangerous; a vote that would come back to haunt him and very few did. The media cooperated in this, avoiding calling attention to anything that might be deemed controversial.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton, whether you liked her or not, was a candidate with a full cart of baggage from her years as the former governor’s and president’s wife, and her years as a U.S. Senator who served, not from Arkansas where she first came to notice, but from New York where liberals thrive. The process of campaigning wore her out and, being the first women to seriously contend to be president, she had even more of a challenge to overcome. Her raw ambition tended to make people afraid of her.

What elected Obama had nothing to do with the slim qualifications he put forth. Few candidates had less to offer. He had never met a payroll. All information regarding his academic records was sealed from view. The press made no effort to ask what passport he had traveled on to Pakistan at one time and did not raise any question about his Social Security number, issued in Connecticut where he had never lived or worked. Famously, he released a “birth certificate” that anyone in Hawaii could attain for the asking, not the “long form” which is deemed credible.

The voters have paid a fearful price for electing Obama; increased unemployment, a huge national debt, a hollowed-out military, billions wasted on “Green” energy, unprotected borders, a Congress in near total gridlock, and a world beyond our shores that perceives an America made weaker by Obama’s three years in office.

I have worked as a public relations counselor for most of my life with earlier years spent as a journalist. I know something about how a product, a service, or an individual is “packaged” to present a positive “image.” What we have all learned since 2008 was that Obama was superbly “packaged” and that the image of an articulate, highly intelligent, well informed candidate was without substance. His inability to speak publicly without a TelePrompter swiftly became a joke.

So, to say that those who voted for him were “stupid” is to misread the new era of politics, one that has more to do with “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” than with the serious selection of the leader of the nation and the free world.

As they say in advertising, voters bought the sizzle, not the steak.

We are seeing this process continue as the Republican candidates vie for votes. The Gingrich “surge” in South Carolina came after he had two successful debates. It is true that Gingrich is a good debater, but the real question is whether he would be a good president. Questions about his character remain.

Gingrich has been comfortable sharing a couch with Nancy Pelosi to advocate the bogus global warming “theory” or taking money from Freddie Mac.. Now he is trying to appear to be a “real” conservative as opposed to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and the quixotic Ron Paul.

While his judgment on issues has been called into question, Romney’s character never has. There has never been a hint of scandal in his life. In terms of policy, he was the Governor of one of the most liberal states and he did support Romneycare there. Politics is rarely pretty and even New Jersey’s fire-breathing Governor, Chris Christie, has taken some extraordinarily liberal positions and made some questionable appointments.

There might have been a time when Gingrich was, indeed, a bona fide conservative, but his long years in Washington, D.C., have taught him that “to get along you have to go along” In the end, even his colleagues in the House, for reasons of policy and personality, could no longer support him as Speaker.

From the days of Bush41 until the 2010 elections the Republican Party looked so much like the Democratic Party, voters had an increasingly hard time telling them apart. The Tea Party movement changed that. They and the “independents” are going to decide the 2012 elections that are currently making history with endless debates.

The debates are proving to be a succession of sound bites and vitriol between the candidates. They increasingly demonstrate how the mainstream media, the debate sponsors, are visibly seeking to influence the outcome of the election and they demonstrate that many voters are easily swayed by matters that have little to do with actual policies and issues.

There has been less and less substance with each debate.

I fear that too many Republican voters are having too many mood swings, relying on a moment or two from the most recent debate than on a serious examination—I repeat myself—of the candidate’s qualifications and character. Romney is carefully scripted and a tad robotic, but Gingrich could become the GOP nominee simply because he is entertaining.

Without doubt, President Obama and the Democrats are enjoying the Republican free-for-all and, without doubt, they have concluded that the voters are stupid.

© Alan Caruba, 2012


scott adie said...

We are a culture of entertainment. Football, basketball, baseball, American Idol, Judge Judy, Disney World, Universal Studios, Pixar,Hip Hop, Crack, Cocaine, Alcohol and on and on it goes. Don't bother us with meaningful decisions, just give us a good emotional rush and we're happy. Wow, did you see him slam that guy? He da man! One day we will 'hit the wall' and wonder what the heck happened to us. Islam will be the wall and the UN will be our new president.

Lime Lite said...

Alan, this I don’t understand. You can forgive Christie and Romney their dubious record as conservatives, but you can’t look past Gingrich sharing a couch with Pelosi? Yes, Gingrich is far from perfect – however, he is an intelligent man, with a broad overview on a number of issues - and he can vocalise his vision. Something I couldn’t say about Romney who stammers the more excited he gets. Romney, after 4 years of campaigning still can’t get 30% of the vote. It’s probably due to him coming across as rehearsed, insincere, and as exciting as a race cake. He has also deliberately avoided acknowledging the Tea Party in any way, shape or form – hence why they are not supporting him. People have looked and do not like. Any wonder that Dems are backing him as their preferred candidate. Obama will mop the floor with him.

Alan Caruba said...

@Lime Lite: All I can say is that Newt creeps me out.

@Scott: Right on target. We want to be entertained, not governed.

unclescott said...

I commented earlier with a comment similar to Lime Lite's and I have said for several months to anyone who would listen, that I think that the true conservatives want a president with a backbone who will do the bidding of their constituents, not "reach across the isle"...compromise is over-rated in Washington, it is what gets us a two month extension instead of a permanent solution, or a 3" plug to fix a 4" hole...most conservatives kept telling me that they really liked Newt, but that he just had too much "baggage" or 'at least that's what everybody else says'...My opinion is that nobody is perfect, and if we only worry about "baggage" because the media defines "baggage" for us and we believe that we need their help in picking the 'only one who can beat Owe-bama' then we will wind up with another McCain...We all claim that we should learn from history if we want to do what works in a true democratic republic, why not support a candidate who is an historian, and a constitutional scholar, and who seems to have learned from his own PAST mistakes?Let's all talk positively about the candidates when they meet our approval, work in our own precincts, donate when we can and let the process work...the cream will come to the top, and we can then all support OUR eventual nominee...if the process, not the press, chooses, we will prevail...Thanks for all you do Alan, I am a devoted follower of your daily articles, and thanks for allowing all of us to post our opinions... God Bless these United States of America...

Ronbo said...

I think Robert Heinlein in his sci-fi hit of 1959 "Starhip Troopers" was dead on target when he suggested that the franchise - the right to vote and hold office - be limited to stalwart veterans, who have I.Q.s above 100.

As it stands now we allow any emotional and stupid Tom, Dick, Harry or Juan Democrat to vote without any qualifications whatsoever - and as 50% of these people have below average I.Q.s, is it any mystery why idiots like Obama and Biden get elected?

There will always be a ruling elite in a republic - and the only oligarchy that makes sense in our constitutional republic is one made of those who swore a sacred oath before Almighty God to support and defend the Republic against all enemies.

Alan Caruba said...

@Ronbo: Those same "stupid" voters elected Lincoln (the second time in the midst of a Civil War), Eisenhower, Truman, and Reagan, among others. In between, they elected men who did more harm than good.

Harry Dale Huffman said...

Strict conservative Republicans are their own worst enemy now, as "Lime Lite"'s supposedly reasonable personal logic well demonstrates. They define themselves too narrowly, and they are not winning over independents like me, who are independents precisely because they do not slavishly accept the dogmatic tenets of Republican conservatives. Trust me, Gingrich cannot win the Presidency, his time is past for the majority of Americans, who put him behind them when he resigned his party's congressional speakership in disgrace (but maybe he looks to the younger voters, who don't remember and are easily taken in). He learned no humility from that, just as Obama learned no humility from Rev. Wright, or Bill Ayers (or Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi, who literally shovelled him into the Presidency with the connivance of the media and an emotionally divided, and yes stupid, electorate). Romney can hopefully get things done for the good of America (he WILL beat Obama), while Gingrich can only preen his image as the most intelligent, and self-forgiving, man in the room (much as Karl Rove does; and his day in the limelight of leadership is done too).

LarryOldtimer said...

I don't and never will understand why anyone would vote for anyone simply because they would not like, from a personal standpoint, a candidate. I have known and worked with very effective people who I would not at all want a personal relationship with.

Newt has an excellent track record of putting forth conservative issues, and with the ability to push them through.

As for Newt's "character", I would much rather have a successful conservative as president, what ever that man's "character" than a squeaky clean numbskull, and with an extremely liberal background.

Unfortunately, far too many fools will vote for promises which can't possibly be kept, rather than for a solidly conservative man with no more in the way of personal and/or marital issues than most of us have had ourselves.

Who ever gets elected, it is quite obvious that the financial woes of this nation will bring extreme hardship in the very near future.

Best, I say, elect a person who who can best lead this nation through the hard times to come, than some other fool who will only exacerbate the hardship.

Guy in Ohio said...

"@Ronbo: Those same "stupid" voters elected Lincoln (the second time in the midst of a Civil War), Eisenhower, Truman, and Reagan, among others...."

Alan, even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut ...

unclescott said...

@ Harry; I don't think that we should try to win over independents...they aren't going to win an election for anyone until they decide that they like the things that made and kept America great or that they like the 'fundamental changes' that have almost completely ruined our great nation...a candidate who tries to please all will only please independents, and it looks more like the majority of Americans want a candidate who will LEAD not check the polls every day to keep the undecideds and the independents "hoping" along with them...we need an immediate, and major course change and a captain who will take the helm NOW, not when he finishes dinner and the newspaper, we are about to run aground...it's not what the party is named, it is what that party is willing to do to keep America free...easily swayed independents (with the help of a lazy press) is what got us Obama...Americans are looking for someone with a direction and a fire in their gut...