Recent polls have been stunning to anyone who hasn’t been watching them in awhile. Realclearpolitics.com has Obama’s disapproval above 50%, up over 30% from when he was elected. Congress it sill hovering at an approval so low that more people probably think that Pokemon are real than approve of Congress. People can (and are) talking all day about how Obama and the Democrats are out of touch, how he isn’t focusing on the right issues, how he isn’t being firm enough on progressive issues…and the list goes on. But Obama’s real issue is much larger than Democrats and Progressives would like to admit. When Congress passed the stimulus bill (or, as I call it, the American Drudgery and Divestment Act), we were told that it would fix the economy. It didn’t. The healthcare bill was a bit of a wake-up for many who believed the hype about the stimulus bill because, when you really look at it, you realize it’s just a big ploy to redistribute wealth. By the way, premiums have been going up since the bill passed. So once again a massive (read: absurdly long) piece of legislation that no one can easily digest passed with assurances about how all the intricacies would improve things, and the end result is higher premiums and no improvement in the actual healthcare.
Now, if Americans were stupid, we would just mill around with our hands in our pockets while Congress brews up another poisonous piece of legislation. But we are neither stupid nor incompetent, and we have instead begun to educate ourselves on issues that we never paid attention to. The Tea Party is now full of people who can quote the Constitution, know the vagueties in definitions of “commerce”, and differentiate between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams like they were night and day. Senior citizens who were brushing off their golf clubs and already had staked out a condo in anticipation of turning 65 are now looking not only at the fine print in social security, but also face cuts in Medicare and looking into how to secure their retirement investments. And then there are the people who never attempted to understand market economics, global economics or monetary policy are now well-versed in what role the Federal Reserve plays in the broader picture, what interest rates indicate, how pensions are paid for (or more often, not paid for), and the fact that no one in government makes a single dollar until someone in the private sector first creates it. Add as a little cherry on top vignettes like Bell, California, ethics issues like those of Maxine Waters and Charley Rangel, and the fact that the average government worker is paid twice as much as those in the private sector earn, and people are rightly pissed off.
But the real problem for the Democrats is that people aren’t as stupid as they would hoped for. Many independents now understand that without confidence, a stable business environment and incentives to grow, the unemployment number will never start ticking down. They understand that the Fed has been printing money like it’s going out of style, and it may soon lead to the mass devaluation of the dollar, and they understand that the absurd Keynesian tax-and-spend system of Democrats is just a ploy to get re-elected and retain power, and is dangerously unsustainable. What’s more, people are beginning to think that an endless parade of Cash-for-Clunkers-style “tax cuts” leads people only to believe that they should buy something when government subsidizes it (because eventually, they will subsidize everything), that not allowing corporations and businesses to feel the pain of bad investment decisions by failing leads them to invest recklessly. Once the general public begins to believe issues such as these are true, it is very difficult to change their mind. The more people learn about how markets work, the more economically conservative they will become. At the end of the day, the Democrats aren’t losing the political battle, because one doesn’t really exist. Over-simplified analogies to the R and D on a car’s gear shift are insults to the average American’s intelligence. The Obama administration is losing the factual battle, and no spin they try to put on it will change that.