Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is Massachusetts Mad?

So, the good voters of Massachusetts--arguably the "bluest" in the country--have decided to send to the U.S. Senate as their representative a man "who has said he supports waterboarding as an interrogation technique, opposes a federal cap-and-trade program to cut carbon emissions and opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants unless they leave the country". This surprising development, according to common wisdom, "represented an unexpected reproach to President Barack Obama after his first year in office", as well as "independents[' anxiety] about the economy and [concern] about the direction taken by Democrats." [Ibid.] According to one lifelong Massachusetts Democrat who cast her first vote for a Republican in this election, "I think if Massachusetts puts Brown in, it's a message of 'That's enough.' Let's stop the giveaways and let's get jobs going." [Ibid.]

Interestingly, on that very same day, "the Dow Jones industrial average rose 116 points, and analysts attributed the increase to hopes the election would make it harder for Obama to make his changes to health care. That eased investor concerns that profits at companies such as insurers and drugmakers would suffer." [Ibid.]

Let me see if I've got this right. The voters who pulled the lever for Brown were so disgusted with how the Democrats have played favorites with Wall Street bankers, insurance company CEOs, and big pharma that they called for the change that they could REALLY believe in--more profits for Wall Street bankers, insurance company CEOs, and big pharma. Hmmmm. There must be some subtle innuendo here that I'm missing. [Readers: if you would care to clue me in, I would welcome it, because right now I'm about to declare myself a complete dunce when it comes to social psychology.]

It seems to me that there are only a few explanations for this phenomenon:

1) The voters are bonkers;
2) The voters are so blazing mad that they are like the father who's pissed off at the wife or kids and, finding that they aren't available, kicks the dog;
3) That the voters don't have much time for politics, so they only know what they see on TV between segments of American Idol (whereby they thought that Senator-elect Brown's daughter, Ayla, a former American Idol contestant, was cute); or
4) Like Frankenstein's monster, they can only repeat by rote, "Democrats bad; Republicans good".

I don't truly believe that Massachusetts' voters (or any other voters) are stupid, crazy, mad dogs, or monsters. They are, however, as I've said here before, dumbed-down, distracted, delusional, and in denial.

  • Dumbed-down because their parents were too distracted or delusional to stress the value of discipline and a good education; and because our school systems are underfunded and unreformed, its teachers overburdened, and its administrators intimidated by a system that favors parents/taxpayers over public servants.
  • Distracted because of a corporatocracy that plies them with endless branding, commercialism, and mind-numbing forms of "entertainment" that fill their precious and few free hours with so-called 'reality shows' and sports.
  • Delusional to believe that all democracy requires is to "throw the bums out" in a recessional election year and maintain the status quo in seemingly prosperous times, no matter how inept or dishonest are those in power.
  • In denial of the fact that, in a democracy, you tend to get the public servants you deserve; if you're not keeping up with developments because you're dumbed-down, distracted, and delusional, you're going to make a lot of mistakes in your choices.
So, I would maintain that, no, Massachusetts is not "mad", only maddening. To vote against a candidate because he or she may have offended one of your sports heroes (Curt Schilling, former Boston Red Sox pitcher) by saying that he was a "Yankees fan"--as some reportedly did--is to treat American governance like a petty disagreement between two sixth graders. Politics should not be a spectator sport. In fact, it's a lot more like choosing a life partner--one that you're about to share with 300 million others who are counting on your good judgment. You have to give it at least as much attention as bingo, beer, or baseball.

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