Man Bites Dog: The Angry Voter

In 1994, Peter Jennings famously claimed that Americans had a “temper tantrum” when they elected fifty-four Republicans to the House of Representatives and eight representatives to the Senate. In 2010, Chris Matthews asked Michelle Bachman if she was hypnotized. This was prompted by Bachman’s refusal to answer Matthews questions about investigating Democrats for “un-American” activities. Wolf Blitzer and CNN then spent a majority of their broadcasts last night analyzing the few Democrat victories.

The two networks decided not to focus on the Republican victories. Instead, they decided to focus on the Democrat victories and how Democrats would go forth now that they lost the house and their 59-41 overwhelming majority. The reason for this was made apparent when Matthews lost his cool with Bachman. He wanted Bachman vindictive. He wanted her angry. He wanted to take analysis of the Republican victory off the table and focus on his characterization of the Republicans. The reason MSNBC and Matthews did not focus on the Republican victory is because it would lead them to lose their professionalism, and the question and reaction to Bachman bore this out.

The depiction of the angry voter remains in the halls of the media outlets, because they are otherwise unable to explain why anyone would vote against Democrats. If they are not angry, the media talking heads concede, then it must have something to do with the fact that they don’t understand what Obama and Pelosi tried to do for them. Andrea Mitchell is one who has probably leveled this analysis on the American mindset more than any other. The only reason they do this, say some, is that they ascribe to the Nancy Pelosi/Barack Obama philosophy, they simply find it impossible to believe that such a large contingent of the American public could disagree with them. They don’t understand how the American public could fail to see that Obama and Pelosi are only trying to help them, and in their desire to open the minds of the American public they reveal themselves as a close minded sort.

If the American public was angry, the question must be asked why? It’s my contention that the American public felt duped. In 2008, the American public was angry at Republicans. They weren’t characterized by the media as such when they elected Democrats, of course, but if you’re going to characterize the public as angry for voting for Republicans, you should be required to level the characterization when they elect Democrats. The reason the American public felt duped, I believe, is that they didn’t assert enough of the blame for the September 2008 collapse on Democrats. So, with the belief that because Republicans were in charge of the Executive Branch the Republicans were to blame, and the public elected Democrats to seats in the 111th Congress, the Senate, and to the Executive Office based upon a campaign of ‘change’.

The American public believed this change would eventually lead to economic prosperity and security. The public believed that the Bush administration was lax on Wall Street and engaged in crony capitalism. What they got was twenty months of more, but different, crony capitalism, and they got over-regulation of Wall Street. They got Obamacare, stimulus packages that didn’t stimulate anything, bailouts, and unprecedented spending the likes of which only John Maynard Keynes could appreciate. (Paul Krugman didn’t appreciate it. He thought the 111th Congress and Obama should’ve spent more.) There may have been some anger involved, but groups like those at MSNBC would like you to believe that this anger was borne of emotional histrionics similar to those of an infant who doesn’t get their rattle. They don’t want you to look into the reasons for this anger. They don’t want you to question the source of the anger and the actions of their party. I believe there was some anger involved, righteous anger of those who didn’t care for the manner in which their country was run, but they’re not angry anymore, and the media should be happy about that.


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