Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ordinary Americans

Paul Krugman has a post on his NY Times blog that correctly identifies the confusion that ordinary Americans have about all this "debt limit" debate in Washington...
...most voters don’t sit around reading Clive Crook columns or debating the Bowles-Simpson plan. They have a gut sense — things are getting better or they’re getting worse — and mainly vote on that basis. They’re not paying attention at all to this stuff.

Wait, it gets worse. Even if voters were trying to make decisions based on things like fiscal responsibility, how likely are they to have remotely accurate information? Not at all if they watch Fox; but the truth is that even if they watch a reputable network, or for that matter even if they read the Times the way most people read it, getting fast impressions rather than scanning articles carefully for the nuances hidden in the 12th paragraph, they probably have only the vaguest sense of what’s going on.

How many Americans truly understand just how extreme and dangerous a game the GOP is playing with the debt limit? Surely it’s a small minority — partly because conventions of “balance” prevent most media outlets from ever saying too clearly what’s happening.

Oh, and about independent voters: if you think that they’re strong-minded, solid citizens repelled by the partisanship — well, there may be a guy like that somewhere in America. But by and large, given the vast differences between the parties these days, independent voters are basically confused, clueless people — not exactly the kind of people likely to take reassurance from Obama’s stance on entitlement programs. On the contrary, they’re the sort of people likely to be stampeded by “Obama wants to raise the Medicare age!”

When pundits talk this kind of stuff, it’s mainly funny in a tiring sort of way. But if the White House actually believes this stuff — well, that’s scary.
When I was a kid I could never figure out how Europe fell into WWI or that the democracies could be so stupidly slow in responding to the threats of Hitler. But if you look out your window today you see a replay of that kind of catastrophe in Washington. Supposedly "professional" politicians who claim to love their country are dancing on the brink and inviting disaster. The Americans people, and the rest of the world, may just be unlucky enough to watch them mistakenly stagger and fall over the edge plunging the world into Great Depression II. Why they would play this dangerous game for petty political gain is impossible for me to understand. It is depressing.

No comments: