And probably fewer than that even CARE (I hope)

Catching up on stuff that grabbed my attention the last few days. For instance, there was this item about a Pew poll:

Poll: Less than half know GOP won the House

(CNN) – The Republican Party won decisive control of the House in this year’s midterm elections, but it appears less than half the country is aware of it.

According to a new Pew poll, only 46 percent of those surveyed correctly identified that the Republican Party won the House as a result of the November 2 elections. But it’s not all bad – 75 percent did know the Republicans performed better than the Democrats, it’s just that many aren’t aware exactly what the party won.

Fourteen percent thought the GOP won control of both the chambers, 8 percent thought Republicans won just the Senate, and 27 percent didn’t know one way or the other. Five percent meanwhile thought Democrats maintained control of both the House and Senate….

I raise this NOT to make the average guy sound like an idiot. I raise it to say that the average guy probably doesn’t care. And he’s right.

No matter how much the oversimplified media — which do their best to reduce everything in politics to a binary choice, like sports (if one team is up, the other team is down), and to naitonalize EVERYTHING — voters still, to some extent, vote for individuals, not parties.

At least I do, and it’s all about what I think, right?

But seriously — if you’re trying to choose between Candidate A and Candidate B, then that’s the choice you’re making. How many people outside the Beltway do you think actually think, “Golly, will Jim Clyburn still be able to be called Majority Whip if I chose this guy?” And if they do, well, they should lose their franchise…

17 thoughts on “And probably fewer than that even CARE (I hope)

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    You don’t think it actually matters to the majority in terms of real life impact who holds control of the House?

    Look, I’m no fan of name brands for the sake of name brands, but sometimes Jif really does taste more like fresh peanuts!

  2. David in Chapel Hill

    Actually, this makes *you* sound like an idiot–or worse. Do you *really* think it doesn’t matter which party controls the Congress? Do you really think voting for an individual regardless of party will have more influence on policy than voting for someone who will support a party’s priorities? The fact of the matter is, it matters greatly which party controls, because it’s that party’s priorities that will get advanced. You could elect Socrates to Congress, and he would either be a faithful party backbencher or [if “independent” in the way you prefer] be utterly irrelevant to the actual functioning of the place. In fact, what you’re announcing here is that you don’t really care about what direction the country is going; that’s less important to you than your snobbish pretense of superiority to the grubbiness of it all.

  3. Brad

    That’s right, boys and girls. I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. Like always.

    The contest between the two parties has come to be ABOUT the contest between the two parties.

    You know what I’d like to see? Total, undisputed control by one party or the other, to the point that the other party is simply not a factor. Doesn’t matter which one. Because at that point, party identification would become unimportant to everyone. Since everyone in a position to affect anything was of Party A, they would no longer define themselves in terms of their determined, bloodyminded opposition to Party B. They would have nothing to offer but their own IDEAS, which would have to compete with varied ideas from all the other members of Party A (and the ideas would be diverse, because a party could only achieve such hegemony by having a big-enough tent to take in everybody’s views) ON THEIR MERITS.

    And at that point, we would actually have a deliberative process, with real debates. That would make me very happy.

  4. Brad

    Oh… even better than undisputed control by one party or the other…

    Elect a few more independents and party outcasts like Lieberman and Murkowski, enough to form a significant voting bloc. Then make sure the two parties are dead-even, totally stalemated. So that the only way they could possibly get anything done at all would be to sell the independents in the middle on the merits of their ideas.

    That, too, would be wonderful.

    I was actually hopeful that something like that was starting to emerge with the Gang of 14 several years back. You had a bipartisan group of moderates who commanded enough votes to keep either party from resorting to the “nuclear option” on judicial confirmation.

    That was a concept worth building on. But instead, all the energy in recent years has been the push me/pull you between the two parties struggling for a bare controlling majority, each determined to get to where it could jam its programs through with no consideration of the other side’s views — a sort of mutual dream of legislative fascism.

  5. Doug Ross

    Please, enough with Murkowski and Lieberman as “independents and outcasts” already.

    Joe freakin’ Lieberman ran for Vice President on the Democratic ticket! Murkowski’s a legacy Republican appointed by her father to the seat. Neither one of them could have won an election without building up their party ties over the years. They both just are in love with their status as politicians.

    Ron Paul is an outcast. Bernie Sanders is an outcast. They are truly disconnected from the party mechanisms.

  6. Mark Stewart

    A one party system usually has one name: “The Communist Party of . . .” But I don’t mean to rip the Communists, totalitarianism is the same all over.

    Parties have a purpose, but as with everything there are limits to what they should be. The unfortunate thing is that neither side will ever admit it.

    Too many people are simple followers; they will never be broken free of their own shackles. Hence the idea of republicanism.

  7. Randy E

    The notion that the two parties are the same is being stringently rebuked with each passing republican position.

    A clear example is START. The GOP opposes START for no apparent reason other than to say NO to Obama – perhaps another Waterloo moment. Under W any democratic effort to block anything related to defense would have been met with a cacophony of charges of being unpatriotic. The democrats hardly engage in such reckless political posturing.

    When it comes to health care, the GOP has shown miniscule concern for covering those in need. One party wants tax cuts for the rich and the other wants to extend unemployment coverage.

    Both parties are guilty of abuse and distasteful practices but the differences are profound.

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    Alan Simpson, one of the “good” Republicans, “There will be blood.”

    —yes,partisanship has gotten out of hand. Instead of working to fix the economy, Mitch McConnell has stated that Job One is getting Obama out of office two years from now. Nice.

  9. bud

    You know what I’d like to see? Total, undisputed control by one party or the other, to the point that the other party is simply not a factor.

    That’s been tried in places like Germany (Nazi) and the Soviet Union (Communist). Look where that got them.

    Brad says the media oversimplifies things. The corollary to that is that some folks over complicate things. In today’s political environment it makes an enormous difference which of the two major parties are in control. With the Dems in charge the last four years we’ve been able to pass healthcare reform, stop all talk of privatizing social security, pass TARP, pass effective stimulus legislation thus avoiding a depression. With the GOP in charge we ended up with negligible job growth, two disasterous wars and an increasing income gap.

    For all their flaws the Democrats offer us the best chance to move this country and state forward. It’s a nice thought to say it’s best to vote for the man or woman rather than the party label but in today’s political environment that just is not very practical. But even more to the point the Democratic candidate embodies the more sensible political views most of the time. Certainly exceptions can and should be made (Alvin Greene) but overall in 90% plus of all races the Democrat gives us the best chance for success as a nation and state.
    Let’s not make this too complicated. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for rational, effective governance most of the time.

  10. bud

    Third quarter growth in the nation’s GDP was just revised upward to 2.5%. That means that during Obama’s first 5 full quarters in office economic growth has increased on average about 2.5%. Not too shabby given the really terrible circumstances he inherited. And it’s about the same as the last five quarters of the Bush administration before the recession began.

    So why does the president get demonized so for his handling of the economy? It all comes down to a paradigm shift in favor of the rich. With job growth lagging more coming out of this recession than from previous recessions the growth rate is simply inadequate to create sufficient jobs.

    Yet corporate profits are recovering nicely. They are able to make money with fewer employees. With high unemployment wages remain stagnant while the rich earn ever greater riches. It is really disgusting to here all this talk about continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy when they are really doing nothing to bring about real job growth. I suggest a big tax increase for the rich that can be offset by incentives to hire. That way everybody wins. The rich can avoid the tax increase while the rest of us can have a shot at a real income. The end result will be an initial hiring spree that will kick-start the economy.

  11. bud

    TARP was passed in 2008 while Bush was still POTUS but the Dems in control of congress. To be fair it was pretty much a bi-partisan effort. Shows how the Dems can work with a GOP president. The GOP has not shown any such tendancy.

  12. Brad

    You mean, they were in control of the House. And sort of almost the Senate.

    But it doesn’t matter. TARP is a good example of something that is devoid of partisan content. Action was needed, and both parties worked to make it happen. It’s only when it gets demagogued by Tea Party extremists that it becomes controversial.

    To a lesser extent, the same is true of the stimulus. If the Dems had not taken over, there still would have been some sort of stimulus, because of the enormous pressure on Congress to DO SOMETHING. It might have placed somewhat more emphasis on tax cuts and credits and less on straightforward spending, but there would have been something.

    Don’t forget how the parties were just stumbling all over each other to try to be seen as doing something. McCain with his awkward attempt to suspend the campaign. Bush with his $17 billion to tide GM over a month or two. None of this has to do with parties. TARP wasn’t just about bailing out Wall Street. The GM dealing wasn’t just about helping the UAW…

    In fact, this is instructive, and it speaks to a difference I have with the partisans. They’re always about which individuals or interest groups benefit or feel pain. Rational policy should be about the overall good. For instance, take these “tax cuts for the rich” I keep hearing about. If such cuts stimulate the economy in a permanent way, I’m all for them. To some extent, I suspect they do. But I’ve also heard credible sounding comments that they’ve already had the stimulative effect they would have, and continuing them won’t give us any added benefit.

    I’m not sure which is true. But I can’t imagine getting all emotionally invested one way or the other, simply because of some perception of how a few individuals might make out. I suspect that almost ANY plan that leads to real, sustainable growth in the private sector — which is the only thing that’s going to pull us out of this hole — is going to make rich people richer. Anything that gets more money flowing through the economy will do that. So fine.

    Personally, I don’t have either the childlike faith in tax cuts alone that is held by Republicans, or the deep aversion of rich people being somewhat richer that seems to keep Democrats up nights. It just doesn’t matter. What matters is the macro effect — does it lift all boats or not?

  13. bud

    If the Dems had not taken over, there still would have been some sort of stimulus, because of the enormous pressure on Congress to DO SOMETHING.

    Once again in his illogical zeal to give balance to both parties Brad throws out a whopper. And this seems to be true of so many in the pundit class. David Broder is particularly offensive in trying to bend over backwards to simply not see how awful the GOP has become.

    So let’s set the record straight. The stimulus bill was passed by DEMOCRATS as a way of making the economy grow and provide jobs. The GOP was nothing but obstructionist throughout the process. Had they been in charge they would have likely provided some ineffective tax cuts for billionares and the growth rate and unemployment number would be much worse.

  14. Kathryn Fenner

    Rich people aren’t “somewhat richer”–they have been growing much much richer while middle class and lower are losing economic ground. One big reason is tax cuts, another is excessive executive compensation.

    Their boats (yachts) have been floating away just fine while so many of the rest of us are in dry dock!

  15. bud

    We’ve all heard the old worn out cliche about a rising tide raising all boats. A better analogy is filling a swimming pool will always raise the boats at the deep end first. That can be mitigated to some extent by making the deep end a bit more shallow. But that would involve tax increases on the zillionaires, something the Tea Parties would have a panic attack over. Too bad we can’t discuss effective policies in a rational way without all this nattering about class warfare.


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