If you’ve skimmed the headlines today, you didn’t find much to get excited about. President Obama can’t get people to watch him speak. Consumer spending dropped. The dollar is sinking. And there might be more mail bombs on the way.
Not surprisingly, we—the American people—are fed up. CNN just reported that 75 percent of Americans think things are “going badly.” It’s the highest number on the eve of a midterm election since CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was first conducted in the mid-1970s.
Since we’re clearly not satisfied with the way things are going, it should be no surprise that tomorrow’s midterm elections are expected to bring some widespread changes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, with tomorrow’s midterms, we’re entering into a historical period of American politics. If the polls are right—and they should be—we’ll be ousting a substantial number of the House majority for the third election running.
That’s the beauty of democracy, isn’t it? We get to pick who governs us. If someone’s not doing a good job, just wait until the next election and vote them out. But is this really the way forward?
In America, we have a thing for self-assured leaders. We want strong men and women who fight for their beliefs with a clear conviction—however misguided it may be. If there’s any bit of uncertainty, we sniff it out right away (see: John Kerry’s presidential campaign).
Then what makes it acceptable for us to flip-flop every other year? We clearly don’t know what we want. Can anything substantial be done if we’re constantly voting people out of office?
Amid all this, polls show voters themselves appear uncertain over what they want from elected officials. A Zogby International poll of more than 1,000 likely independent voters last month found that more than 70% wanted candidates who are “flexible” and “not afraid to be independent of their party.”
But another survey, by the Allegheny College Center for Political Participation, found more than half of all registered voters wanted elected officials to shun compromise and stand firm on principle. Among likely Republican voters, those favoring no concessions topped 70%.
Well, what is it?
Don’t get me wrong; there are a ton of kooks in politics. Washington is filled with guys who say one thing when they’re on the campaign trail, only to morph into a different person once in office.
But maybe we’re judging our officials too quickly. As a whole, we clearly don’t know what we want. We’re stuck in volatile times, and we could do with some consistency in office. In our ever-marginalized position, that’s the one thing we actually can control.
What do you think? Does all of the blame fall at the feet of politicians? Or do we deserve some of the blame? Do we know what we want? Let us know in the comments.
More GMPM on politics: