Not surprisingly, for a growing number of voters, November 6th, 2012 was not much of a contest at all. Hardly the big deal that was playing out in media outlets. Why ? Roughly 22 percent of the U.S. population lives in the nine politically divided states that were likely to determine the outcome of Tuesday’s election – and they have been the focus of the candidates’ campaign stops and advertising. That has left about 80 percent of us Americans effectively on the sidelines, the highest proportion in more than century. As a resident of a very red, deep south state, I fit suggly in that 80 percent group.
With the South and the Plains states firmly in the Republican column and the Northeast and West Coast solidly Democratic, elections since 2000 have come down to a few states that, for one reason or another, remain politically diverse and up for grabs.
But I have some observations just the same.
The most prevalent “take-away” I have from this election is that there are some messed up people making a living off of the process. Why else would we go through such bizarre and un-democratic exercises to elect our governing officials? Just a handful of the notes I’ve made in the past eighteen months:
Is This Any Way to Run For Leader of the Free World?
If the Romney campaign had a “no whining rule” when it came to media coverage, Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan apparently had different ideas(which also might be why he was exiled to such hotly contested battleground states as Alabama and South Carolina, and had only staged media events like the closed soup kitchen where he pretended to wash clean dishes). Why else would the Republican candidate for President not grant a single interview for the final three weeks of the election? How can the electorate in the most powerful country in the world know so little about their Commander-in-Chief? How can so many people have access to so much information, and still be virtually ignorant when it comes to economics, history, and politics?
The Most Ironic Observation
Media Bias. Who has it, who wants it, how can we get rid of it? And there have been some whoppers this time around.
For instance, my favorite:
- “It goes without saying that there is definitely media bias,” Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. “I think most people in the mainstream media are left of center and, therefore, they want a very left-of-center president versus a conservative like Mitt Romney.”
It’s an familiar and largely ignored criticism by both sides, but more strenuously by the conservatives. George H.W. Bush’s 1992 campaign featured bumper stickers that read: “Annoy the Media — Re-elect Bush.”
But when combined with other GOP claims that even pollsters are skewing their results to favor President Obama (no doubt just a small fraction of a evil plot to suppress Republican zeal), there is a long-held verification that Republicans are actually feeding their less-informed believers paranoid delusions. I recently read a piece extolling this very point in right-leaning Politico (home base for such stellar bi-partisan thinkers as Joe Scarborough and Mike Allen), say Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at Politico.
- Liberal Bias in the media: Another favorite of mine. Even with Romney’s “47 percent” blunder and other undeniable screw-ups, conservatives when they cannot get by with the “liberal media” claim, have pulled a new and more Rush-esque claim out of their collective butts: “liberal-influenced polling.
Never one to disappoint, Joe Scarborough took to making fun on air of Nate Silver’s 538 Blog, which takes complicated algorithms, and polling by numerous and varied state polling companies to deduce percentages of a candidate’s chances in a given race. Since the Electoral College results on Mr. Silver’s site did not fit Mr. Scarborough’s desired outcome, it was, of course, total crap and worthy of Mr. Scarborough’s scorn. This is standard operating procedure from Mr. Scarborough, who brow beat anyone that dares disagree with him, regardless of their expertise on any given subject.
- But liberals actually do not dominate our current media landscape.
- Uber-conservative, The Wall Street Journal, “a bastion of conservative values” according to Martin and Burns, has the highest circulation of America’s newspapers.
- Three of the top five radio broadcasters, including Limbaugh, are conservatives.
- Fox News continues to dominate cable news and is so biased it’s “newscasters” even took to criticizing New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, for having the gall to tell the truth, and compliment President Obama for his quick response to Hurricane Sandy.
“Many Republicans see bias lurking in every live shot, but the growing domination of conservative voices makes manufacturing a partisan conspiracy a practical impossibility,”
say Martin and Burns.
- Conservatives exist in a constant state of denial:
Undoubtedly, Romney has been trailing in the polls ever since the horrendous showing at the Republican National Convention, except for a short period after the first Presidential Debate. President Obama clearly underestimated the extent to which Mr. Romney could change spots and was naively coached to “stick to the truth.”
Yet anyone viewing Fox News, listening to Rush Limbaugh, or tuning in to Morning Joe would have never known. According to these media sources, Romney has been in a virtual tie since that first debate. How? By claiming that POLLS have been corrupted and the BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS for the first time in history has corrupted unemployment data for the sole purpose of throwing the election. I’m not kidding. Ask Jack Welch.
According to Martin and Burns, “The attempt to debunk polls is in many ways the logical, if absurd, outgrowth of a choose-your-own adventure political news environment where partisans have outlets that will echo their views.” Conservatives are now seeking “out polls that favor their side or even [finding] a tonic in the arbitrary rejiggering of professional polls.”
To be fair, (not that anyone apparently cares about fairness any more):
- · Democrats have tunnel vision as well, just fewer places to get their “fix” as it were:
Of course it’s not only conservatives who view the world through a partisan lens, say Ben Smith and Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed. Party identification can “trump voters’ experience of reality” on both sides of the aisle; just look at how Democrats and Republicans view the economy.
Polls show that “if you’re a Democrat, it’s something approaching morning in America. If you’re a Republican, we’re screwed.”
Which is precisely why Romney has gotten so little footing every time he tried to simply base his campaign rhetoric on the economy: No one can agree on how the economy is actually performing.
Romney’s only real avenue of attack is that it’s not improving fast enough. A strategy that was panned on air by conservative darling, Laura Ingram.
MSNBC, at odds with parent NBC and CNBC, makes decent inroads with the likes of Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell in their prime time lineup, but are the only real competition to the entire spectrum of conservative media.
The Road Does Not Get Easier
Should President Obama win his bid for re-election, there could be equally bumpy roads ahead.
- Considering the amount of money invested by Republican billionaire backers, if President Obama wins re-election there will almost certainly be a spate of legal challenges to voting procedures. The same could await should Mr. Romney win given the doggedness by which Republican governors and the Ohio Secretary of State have shown in attempts to reduce Democrat-leaning voters ability to vote unencumbered.
- The “Fiscal Cliff” awaits (a debt ceiling battle on steroids).
- The likelihood that Democrats will retain the smallest of majorities in the Senate and the Republicans’ almost equal likelihood to retain majority status in the House.
Should Mr. Romney win his bid for the Presidency, all bets are off as to Democrats in the Senate being able to hold up with as much solidarity as the Republicans in the House have exhibited in partisan obstructionism.
In any event, I predict with 99% certainty that nearly 50% of all Americans will be unhappy on Wednesday, November 7th.