Intransigence Over Intelligence?
With two new polls (Gallup and Zogby) showing the generic ballot race tied this week, Democrats might be comforted enough to think that things are looking up as we head into the home stretch of the 2010 midterms. Even more comfort might come from seeing what the Tea Party nominees like Christine O'Donnell are doing to the GOP's future hopes of retaking control.
Yet less than two years after a Bush-weary electorate elected Barack Obama supposedly because he talked about change and compromise, a new poll shows that the electorate favors leaders who stick to their guns and don't compromise.
Nearly half of America -- including nearly two-thirds of Republicans and 53 percent of independents -- admires political leaders who refuse to compromise. This is further evidence that the current political atmosphere is not merely contentious, but hostile to any hope of negotiated settlements to the many political and policy differences that define the current landscape.
With multiple problems facing the country and a president who started out his term seeking compromise above principles, even after getting the back of the hand from his political opponents within and outside of the party, such news tells you that the GOP and Tea Party may not pay a price for trotting out crazies as their nominees, as long as these fringers can be packaged as resolute.
It's a secondary matter that the electorate doesn't agree with the Tea Party prescriptions when forced to think about them. What matters is that the 2010 electorate has been dumbed down so much by the media and the pressures of their own daily lives that they may vote resolute idiots into office to shake things up.
What does this say about Democrats' overall strategy these last two years of following the White House lead in seeking compromise and pursuing a legislative strategy that avoided confrontation and accepted appeasement? What does it say about the 2008 result: was that really a vote for Obama and compromise or an anti-Bush vote? And what does it mean for a Democratic leadership in both houses that will find its numbers and options reduced over the next two years against a backdrop of rising gridlock?
It was now 46 years ago that a man of conviction and far-right principles got his party's nomination and was deemed too extreme to be president. Five decades of conservative media control later, and we find ourselves in an era where voters purportedly respect intransigence while the country crumbles around them, even if they disagree with what the extremists actually propose. If that is the case, then why should progressives be shy any longer about staking out their positions and forcing debate rather than compromise, even if it means going against their own party leaders at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? The resulting sunshine upon the crazies just elected by the voters can only help.