October 24, 2012

On the Election

The sad truth is that people want to believe the fantasy that the former governor can make it all better just because he says he can, in the absence either of evidence he has done so in the past, or details as to how he will do it in the future. This is held up against the actual performance of the incumbent, which, while not perfect, shows definite progress in the right direction. So deluded by hope are some they cannot see that “I'll create 12 million jobs” and “Government doesn't create jobs” are mutually contradictory! Flimflam and snake oil; yet people line up to buy it...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

18 comments:

C. Wingate said...

There are two things about the Republican side of the campaign that boggle me. First, there is the torrent of outright and shameless lying about Obama, starting (literally) from his birth. Second, there is this bizarre trope that something disastrous is going to happen if Obama is reelected. Huh? If he is re-elected, aren't things going to stay the way they are?

Grandmère Mimi said...

It's amazing to me that the glaring contradictions seem not to reach the consciousness of so many people.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Indeed so, CW. I just heard the latest Clint Eastwood ad, in which he says, "Time is running out..." Time for what? There seems to be a kind of veiled apocalyptic behind the thinking of some folks. My sense is that I'd rather risk the moderate growth under Obama -- as well as perhaps some more aggressive employment in the public sector by putting returning Vets and the un- and underemployed to work on infrastructure (a la WPA) -- rather than "trust" that Romney's unarticulated "plan" will do the trick.

But then, I'm not an ideologue about state spending -- so long as it is well spent. As I said in an earlier post, the advantage of government is that you can vote it out of office; the benevolence of the wealthy class is theirs to control, and not all the wealthy are all that benevolent!

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Mimi, people believe in spite of evidence, in the absence of evidence, and because of evidence. I can understand the last two but the first one can only be put down to gullibility or folly!

Bill Ghrist said...

I think that a main reason that people believe in spite of evidence is that subconsciously they cannot deal with accepting the idea that they may be wrong about something that is important to them.

Chris H. said...

I know this won't change anyone's mind here, and maybe you don't really want an answer that doesn't paint non-democrats as insane demons, so feel free not to post it, Tobias, but here goes.

@C. Wingate, the disaster expected in this red and/or libertarian state: "Greece". The deficit, Obamacare,expanded Medicaid,too many on welfare,social security, etc. are expected to drive us over the edge.

@Grandmere, Obama came here(MT) last election and promised everything under the sun(and a space program too?). It's what all challengers do, whatever party. They have to. All politicians lie. People here don't understand how people believe so much from a Chicago politician and colleague of "Blogo". Chicago and IL are broke and not paying their bills, so why trust one of them on the budget?

Locally, the stimulus didn't work, the green jobs didn't come, new EPA rules lost jobs. The jobs we have are in things Obama doesn't like(oil,ag);the vets from Iraq are unemployed. Obamacare is scaring doctors away because we have a lot of Medicare/medicaid people AND it says that "Full time" work is 30 hours, so hourly workers are afraid of cuts. The focus is on survival.Narrow minded, perhaps, but not the insane evil demons so many democrats paint them as.

David Donnell said...

Well, we KNOW how Romney will make it all better: feed all our seed corn to the fattest of the pigs and hope that by some miracle they'll poop out jobs!

It seems to me that most of Mr. Romney's experience so far has been in the area of job destruction. Not somebody I'd want leading the nation, thank you very much.

Erika Baker said...

I always think one of the problems is that people have no real concept of how politics work and who has what actual power of influence. Combined with a general lack of interest in politics and lack of economic training, no-one is really in a position to judge whether long distant economic measures result in stimulus now, or whether new jobs are the result of particular policies or of something business did, or something the banks did or didn't do.
It's all far too complex for us to really understand - and so the temptation is to judge people by how they present themselves during an election campaign.

And I think your Presidential campaigns are quite vulnerable in that respect as people literally make a choice between 2 individuals - which is deceptively nice and simple.

It's not that many vote contrary to the evidence, it's that they don't really know what constitutes evidence and how to interpret it.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Bill, I think that's in large part the truth: people want to hang on to myths that nourish their self-understanding.

Chris, I don't think I've ever demonized non-democrats, and am in fact an independent -- I refuse to ally myself with any party, as I see party allegiance as a big part of the problem, when people feel they must cleave to a party line in the face of evidence to the contrary. That being said, while I respect that there are problems in Montana, and agree that Obama has not done all he promised to do either there or nationally, I think it is a partisan mistake to lay all the fault at his feet Many of the problems you cite could well be laid at the feet of an uncooperative congress, for instance. Moreover, the evidence -- and by that I mean the charts of actual economic performance by virtually all standards -- shows the economy moving in the right direction; perhaps not as fast as some would like, but definitely in the right direction. This is due in large part to things beyond the control of the president or even the government, but there are many concrete plans Obama has proposed that will help (putting Vets to work in infrastructure jobs, for instance) while Romney just keeps making promises and being short on specifics.

David, as I note, Romney's track record does not match his rhetoric.

Erika, people want simple answers instead of complex ones -- and that is true on both sides. And the simple answers are often wrong.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

And here is a link to a [non-partisan] set of graphs that appear to show the positive overall trend in a large number of categories. Perhaps not fast or steep enough for some, but clearly heading the right way, I think.

C. Wingate said...

Chris, two things about "Greece": first, the financial/political situation of the two countries is very different. I don't mean this to imply that we don't have to worry about ending up in Greece's situation at all, but it is not an immediate danger for us, and we have tools to deal with it that Greece does not. Also, the PIIGS problem is very much tied into the whole notion of having a shared currency, which is irrelevant to our situation.

Second, I don't see any reason to believe that Romney will do anything about balancing the budget, because he can't do it and keep his other fiscal promises. He cannot cut social programs enough to compensate for the tax cuts and defense increases he is promising, even ignoring the political impossibility of the largest cut targets. If he wants to balance the budget, he is going to have to make big defense cuts, and he spent quite a lot of the last debate promising exactly the opposite. And if Reagan era Republican budgeting is any indication, he and congress aren't really going to care about balancing the budget. Reagan and both Bushes never did, and the only reason Clinton came in with one was as an act of spite from the opposition-controlled congress. This time around, they've figured out that they can make more political hay by going along with Obama's Keynesian budget and then blaming the resulting deficit on him.

Obama didn't make big deficits; he inherited them. If you believe in Keynesian economics, you want to run a surplus in good years; Bush's eight years of deficits is "Greek" behavior all around.

dr.primrose said...

According to a story in this week's Newsweek, the Republicans have threatened to filibuster 385 times in the last five years. This equals the number of filibuster threats from the begging of World War I to the end of the Reagan administration, almost 70 years. This has affected 70% of all major legislation.

The Republican intent has been to refuse to permit Obama to receive credit for any major legislation. And the result has to essentially bring governance to a halt or to put the country's economy (and the world's economy) at grave risk as typified by the refusal to raise the debt ceiling in 2011. For them, petty political posturing trumps running the world into economic collapse.

The real possible result of this intransigence, as the article notes, is the president acting by ignoring Congress, a result precisely opposite of what the Republicans want.

This is also a matter of serious concern for many people all across the political spectrum. Congress has, as a practical matter, been largely excluded from foreign affairs. The constitutional war-powers clause is essentially a dead letter. Moving in a direction of greater presidential power on the domestic level is troubling.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Chris H., in all fairness, some of what Obama promised, he tried to do in the face of an intractable Republican House whose chief policy seemed to be to block every Obama proposal, even those which had originated as Republican policies. Their goal was to make Obama a one-term president, no matter the cost to the people of the country.

Why is it that no Republican politicians mention the name of their most recent Republican president? Why was George W Bush absent from the Republican Convention? Perhaps because Bush inherited a budget surplus, cut taxes, conducted two wars off-budget, and left the Obama administration an enormous deficit and an economy on the brink of a possible depression.

Has it occurred to you that to paint all Chicago politicians with the same brush may not result in a fair and accurate picture? It takes a while to dig out from such a deep hole, but Obama moved the country in the right direction.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks for the reminders, Dr. P. There are times I long for the parliamentary model, but I really prefer it when all branches in our balanced system work together, rare as that may be! Obstructionism in any branch for political purpose is to no ones long-term advantage.

Thanks, Mimi. It has been an uphill slog through mud and undergrowth, but we are getting there...

Chris H. said...

Mimi, that IS the point. Liberals paint all conservatives as wingnuts. Therefore all liberals are just as illiberal as those they hate, and yes, it is hate although most liberals find other terms to mask it, the meaning is the same.

Are there any conservatives in your church? Do you tell them what horrid wingnuts they are? If not, why not? They're all crazy, right? Nobody who is conservative is sane, isn't that what all these posts are about? If the statements on your site, this and others are any indication,my assumptions about Chicago politicians are mild compared to some of yours.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Well, Chris, I don't think all conservatives are "wingnuts" by any means. Nor do "all liberals" think that way.

What I am saying is that Romney has not offered a well-articulated plan, but is making promises he cannot possibly keep, and people are buying that because it is what they want to hear. It has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative -- there are plenty of conservatives who reject the Romney "plan" including a number of leading Republicans.

It still amazes me that anyone could support Romney -- not because I disagree with his policies, but because they keep changing so fast it isn't clear what his policies are. (I do disagree with some of the positions he's taken, and I see that others will not work -- tried and failed time and again). It has nothing to do with "conservativism" but looking at facts and not fantasy. I'll take Eisenhower any day! (And Obama is more like Eisenhower than Romney is! Think Interstate Highway System...) In short, Obama is the real conservative; Romney is a radical!

Turnip Ghost said...

"people want to hang onto myths"/which goes far to explaining the continued popularity of religion.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

TG, I almost didn't post your comment, as it is rather off topic. Beyond that, not all faith or religion is based on mythology. Some of it is quite rational, and I'd be happy to explain it to you some time if you're interested. Meanwhile atheism is as much based on an unprovable thesis as much as many other belief systems.