Baffling the pundits

A couple of related links.

59% Would Vote to Replace Entire Congress

Congress was front and center in the national news last week and the American people were far from impressed. If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, 59% of voters would like to throw them all out and start over again. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 17% would vote to keep the current legislators in office.

Today, just 23% have even a little confidence in the ability of Congress to deal with the nation’s economic problems and only 24% believe most Members of Congress understand legislation before they vote on it.

…and…

Sudden outbreak of democracy baffles US pundits

The outrage isn’t the spooky part. The really odd thing is that if you had to rely on the mainstream US newspapers and TV channels – and nothing else – you’d wouldn’t know something remarkable was happening. Which is that the Treasury Secretary’s Bailout Plan had united parts of America who spend most of their energy hitting each other over the head, in common opposition to the proposal.

It was the moment that politicians dread the most. This was not merely an outbreak of popular discontent, but a phenomenon which breaks down those convenient labels the political marketing people like to use, to shield their masters from people’s true desires and intentions. Not just coarse labels like “Left” and “Right” – but the really dumb, patronizing demographic ones like “Soccer Mom” and the nadir of modern politics, those found in Mark Penn’s “Microtrends.” Niche marketers will have to start from scratch.

Conservatives, libertarians, and lefties all raised objections to the Bailout for very sound reasons of their own. The idea that the state should bail out feckless private enterprises offended both conservatives and libertarians, who take moral responsibility seriously. The left wanted their traditional adversaries put in jail, not given a gift of new lease of life with the public’s money.

People discovered that to “Change Congress,” you simply need a ballot box – or the threat of one.

All this was reflected on political sites, forums and blogs – but not a hint of this sentiment was expressed by the professional media. So when Congress rejected the Bill on Monday, America’s punditocracy expressed its shock. It also reported that the markets were “astonished” – the markets being presumed to have a better grasp of what American citizens want than American citizens themselves.

The first is a news report on a recent poll, the second is a commentary that’s well worth reading.

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