Narrative Failure

There’s nothing more annoying that excessive crowing over an election, but I can’t help taking just a moment to observe that there’s something which doesn’t quite fit about the idea that the GOP (and in a number of cases, the Tea Party wing of the GOP) did so well yesterday because the electorate was outraged that Obama and congress didn’t tack harder left in the last two years. Yes, it’s true that it was moderate Democrats, in many cases, who lost, but that’s mainly because those moderate Democrats were elected in 2010 in districts which were to the right of them, districts which had previously been held by the GOP. But the fact that Pelosi was reelected while Driehaus lost doesn’t mean that the electorate as a whole wants people on the hard left — it’s because Pelosi’s district is in San Francisco while Driehaus’s was in Cincinnati.

What both rightists and leftists should keep in mind after elections like this one and 2008 as well is that elections in the US are decided by a swing bloc which might charitably be described as pragmatic/a-political (or uncharitably as generally ignorant of political ideology and policy.) In 2008, that bloc looked at the landscape and said to itself, “Things aren’t going so well, and Obama seems like he has exciting new ideas.” This year, those same people looked around and said, “I keep hearing about ‘stimulus’ and debt and the health care bill, but all I can see right now is that a lot of people are out of work and insurance costs are going up. Let’s throw the bums out.”

Obama bet big that either he would have the magical ability to fix the economy, or it would fix itself, within two years. He lost that one. Now Republicans are betting that things will either look better in two years, or it will be possible to pin remaining problems on Obama. Only time will tell.

As someone who does have a formed political and economic philosophy, it’s frustrating to me that elections are decided the way they are, though probably less so than for progressives since gridlock is not all that bad a thing according to my philosophy, while theirs require that the helping hand of statism shepherd us firmly and rapidly into the brave new world that is ahead.

10 Responses to Narrative Failure

  1. I just hope that the GOP keeps its promises and actually offers solutions… I had enough of faux-conservative policies in ’04-’08.

    Having said that, I wonder how happy the electorate would be with a Congress that would actually take deficits seriously…

  2. You know, my comment above reads like a liberal bitter about last night’s losses! Sorry ’bout that. 🙂

  3. Paw Possum says:

    Hi there,

    The reason Oh-Bummer was elected was because of the failure of the Republicans, previously. To the extent that “conservatives” tend to be Republicans, people think Republicans are conservative but the Republican party failed to follow conservative principles and that’s why they lost and Oh-Bummer won.

    Take something like smaller government. Bush greatly expanded government but instead of asking taxpayers to foot the bill, they instead masked the costs of war by borrowing the money. There will be the devil to pay over that; you can be sure. Other conservative principles, similarly. They ignored them and lost the support of their largest faction.

    In addition, they put up some very hard-to-stomach candidates. McCain is insipid, timid, and behaves like a Democrat. Palin was completely a wild card. No one knew what she would turn out to be and she scares the heck out of some people because she seems to be poorly educated and not very careful either.

    If the Republicans do a better job in two years of putting up a candidate we can have faith in and also if they stick to conservative principles in the mean time, they will take the White House back. If not, we’ll punish them again.

    -Paw, Doomer in Chief

  4. T. Shaw says:

    It was not narrative failure. It was racism and calvinistic, dualistic PURE evil; er stupidty; er treason; er insanity; er . . .

    We will do better next time.


    “I had enough of faux-conservative policies in ’04-’08.”

    I think that would be from 2004 (or 1994) to 2006. The (D) (is for despicables), veritable conservatives, have been in firm control of the congress since January 2007, and the regime spent $3,000,000,000,000.00 more than tax receipts in the most recent two years.

    Did voting out faux-conservatives reduce the deficit or advance true conservativism? I think not.

    If the new crowd does same same as the old crowd, we will vote them out in 2012.

    The part of the electorate that believes it is the government’s duty to provide for them may have reason to be unhappy. The people that pay to provide for the people . . . , not so anguished.

    I love you, Man. You were being sarcastic, right?

  5. Zeppo says:

    LWPH will no longer be house leader; a small but important victory.

  6. T. Shaw says:

    CA Dems elected a dead person.

  7. Pinky says:

    Let’s spread the rumor that Olympia Snowe is going to switch to the GOP.

    The loss of House leadership isn’t a small thing. It’s huge. The Senate can’t do anything on its own but appoint judges. In fact, the Senate can’t do much of anything else without 60 votes. They couldn’t pass cap-and-trade or even the health care bill, really, when they had 59. In the low 50’s, nothing will get through without big negotiation.

  8. Blackadder says:

    The idea that electoral losses are caused by being too moderate/centrist are common both on the left and the right. If you think about it, the view is kinda crazy, but it’s more pleasing that the realization that most of the country doesn’t share one’s own politics.

  9. John Henry says:

    Yeah, on the right it’s: Bush forgot fiscal restraint, so he lost the country (ignoring Iraq, Katrina, and the economy)

    On the left it’s: We needed a bigger stimulus; if we had only spent $2 trillion then unemployment would have gone down and the country would have approved.

  10. Blackadder says:

    Don’t forget the public option. There was great yearning for that among the populace.

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