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What Is the Real Message of Elections?
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 • Posted November 10, 2010

Last week's election results really came as no surprise to anyone who has actually been watching the news and keeping up with current events. When Wednesday dawned, the House had reverted to Republican dominance (by a huge majority) and the Senate had a more even spread between the two major parties.

The pundits and talking heads were immediately all over the story, asking, "What are the voters saying?" I think that one needs to be careful about reading too much into what voters "say," as we Americans have proved ourselves sadly fickle when we head to the voting booth.

In 2006, after six years of Republican control of the House, Senate and the White House, voters sent a message by handing over Congressional control to the Democrats. It left President Bush with two years of having to actually negotiate with Congress rather than expecting a rubber stamp of any actions he made.

In 2008, the voters sent another message, electing Barack Obama over John McCain, putting Democrats in control of Congress (with a slim, filibuster-proof Senate) and the White House.

In 2010, the voters sent another message, splitting Congress with a Republican-controlled House, a slimly Democrat-controlled Senate, and a Democrat-controlled White House.

One cannot read a message into the 2010 elections without also recognizing what happened in 2006 and 2008 and figuring out what those messages mean to the current election. But, pundits and politicians have short memories!

Voters react. We forget what has happened in the past year, two years, four years,,, instead, we only remember what has happened in the news during the last month. There is a reason that so much money is spent on political advertising - we respond to it! We hear that someone is a bad person. We don't check to see if its true; but, instead, we automatically decide we will vote for their opponent. We don't have any facts, we only have the image we've been handed by carefully crafted advertising.

We now conduct our elections much like a season of American Idol. Though we know that Billy is the best singer and the best entertainer, we like the bizarre story spun by Sue, and so we keep her in the race to keep things interesting. Much to our surprise, Billy loses to Sue because she knew how to work the crowd in her favor. Sue never turns out any music worth keeping; but, she provided us with one good season of entertainment, and we're okay with that.

I suppose it was inevitable. We seek out our news from sources that make no secret of their biased slant. We recently learned that Keith Olbermann was suspended for openly contributing to Democratic candidates, in violation of MSNBC policy. Over at FOX, we learned that the majority of their staff contributed to Republican candidates; but, FOX doesn't prevent their employees from having conflicts of interest.

We get emails that claim the Senate candidate is from Mars. There is absolutely no proof, nothing to substantiate the rumor; but, since it's a candidate we've been trying to hate, it's good enough for us to consider it as fact and pass it along to others as the truth.

We get what we deserve in politics. Sometimes we get lucky and elect someone that actually tries to do the job they're supposed to do. More often, we get candidates that reflect our own lack of attention to what's really going on.

It’s all just my opinion.

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