Thursday, October 27, 2011

At the Core

Check this out:

"Okay, we now have a fourth national poll revealing this striking disconnect: Americans strongly disapprove of Obama on the economy, and are deeply pessimistic that it will get any better — even as they strongly approve of the actual fiscal policies the President is championing.
The new New York Times poll finds that Obama’s numbers on the economy are awful. Only 34 percent approve of his handling of the economy. Only 40 percent approve of his handling of jobs. Seventy two percent think the country’s on the wrong track. A plurality thinks we’re heading into another recession.
But the poll also finds that Obama’s new jobs plan, and the provisions within it, have clear public support:"

I jacked those graphs from Prometheus 6 who I believe jacked them from the New York Times. As you can see, they provoke some interesting questions about Barack Obama's role as a messenger in today's United States.

See, some people might posit that Americans disapprove of Obama while approving of his policies because they are largely ignorant of his actual policies. And you know, that is probably true to an extent. Everyday, I'm shocked at how often people develop strongly held beliefs based on very little actual information. It's pretty damn shocking to be honest.

Obama may just be the latest president to be victimized by an American public that gets its information in carefully crafted soundbites that impart very little actual understanding. People don't like to read long policy stories, or watch debates about them on the news. Plus, with more and more people getting their news from sources they agree with, it's way less likely that people are getting information they can truly use. So, it's quite possible that Obama's low approval rating is disconnected from his actual policies because people are genuinely ignorant with no malice.

It's possible.

But, possible and plausible are slightly different. It's not that I think that ignorance isn't a factor, it's that I also think that people, white and black, have become disenchanted with their personal Magical Negro in the White House and really aren't trying to learn anymore about what he's actually doing

Whenever I have conversations with people complaining that Obama is doing nothing, I start talking about the system changes in the Justice Department. The payroll tax changes, the housing changes, the regulation changes and things of that nature. I'm not an expert on the president's accomplishments, but I do know a little bit. And inevitably I find people, people who claim to have been Obama supporters, shrugging off those actions and instead complaining that he hasn't done enough, he hasn't been strong enough that he's failed to live up to his promises.

 Granted, there were a lot of promises made during the election, and several of them have fallen by the wayside. Yes, the economy is tanked, yes we are still fighting shadowy wars and yes the rich continue to get richer. But when I get to the core of many people's complaints, I discover that they are based around some nebulous sense that Obama just hasn't cut the mustard. That he's been a disappointment because based on their expectations, expectations that are as variable as the wind, he didn't deliver what he promised.

 And then the question becomes, "Well exactly what did he promise you?" See, I expected him to be a competent politician. Particularly when compared with the alternative. I've been rewarded for that belief. Beyond that, I hoped he would be fair-minded when it came to blacks folks and not implement policies that  kept us as second class citizens. Again, I feel he's done that. Now, I understand that everyone doesn't have the same expectations as me, but I'm curious about exactly what they really thought was going to happen.

Certain blacks seem to have believed he was going to right racial wrongs and champion our causes. Not sure where that came from. And even worse, many white folks seem to think that just because they "took a chance" and voted for a black guy, he should be the greatest leader of all-time. It's not enough that he was the best possible choice, and that's why he was selected. In order for his selection to be justified, he can't be normal, he has to be extraordinary.

And that pisses me off royally because I understand the roots of that mindset. I've seen it way to often. There are few things more frustrating than always being expected to be extraordinary, while secretly considered inferior. Few things at all.



Bill said...

Congress has the power; and they are controlled by powerful lobbyist, corporations, and people who have money. The senate consists of 100 members each state gets two; congress has around 435 members, and it is based on each state population. These 535 members represent the desires of the American people which are over 300 million. This is really basic info. I said this because the elections of Nov 2010 gave the house by a large margin to the Republican Party. The Democratic Party barely controls the senate. This is a recipe that guarantees grid lot. The President can’t get anything done. Unfortunately, this is what the majority voted for. I said all of that to just say this: The American people are ignorant and they do not know what they want.

spacemonkey said...

I got the impression (as an outsider looking in from the other side of the world) that many Americans had seriously unrealistic expectations of Obama. I cynically predicted it would end in disappointment (and that was before I knew he'd have a major economic crisis to deal with).

It's sad and frustating. And, it's probably very little consolation, but the ignorance and jumping to conclusions is by no means an American-only phenomenon.

FG Abel said...

I agree that many of Obama's 2008 voters are of a certain mindset today reflecting their ignorance of what he has already accomplished and what they expected. You are also right about the short attention spans. The drumbeat of bad news for Obama seems to be unrelenting, even to the extent of Osama bin Laden's capture being all but buried beneath the far right's celebrating that victory with silence, while the incessant drumbeat of economic problems leads the cable media fiefdoms. But these pea brained voters need us to remind them where the blame lies for almost all that transpired in the 8 years of Bush/Cheney. We also need to help people learn recent history lessons. Those who voted for change in 2010 got it -- gridlock and Congressional votes in favor of the phrase "In God We Trust." No jobs program in that, but that's what passes today for Congressional action. Every day for the next year, we need to keep asking these Obama-doubting folks, a la Sarah Palin, "How's that right-wing Congress workin' out for ya? And how much worse will it get if a Republican reaches the White House?" That possible future is truly frightening.

Raving Black Lunatic