On November 3, Gallup reported that among the issues likely to be addressed in the new Congress, these were the top priorities of Americans, in order of importance:
|Issue Priority||% National
|1.||Passing new stimulus bill to create jobs (38%)||Repealing health care (36%)||Passing new stimulus bill to create jobs (63%)||Passing new stimulus bill to create jobs (32%)|
|2.||Cutting Federal Spending (24%)||Cutting Federal Spending (29%)||Cutting Federal Spending (15%)||Cutting Federal Spending (28%)|
|3.||Repealing health care (23%)||Passing new stimulus bill to create jobs (18%)||Repealing health care (12%)||Repealing health care (23%)|
|4.||Extending all Bush tax cuts (8%)||Extending all Bush tax cuts (13%)||Extending all Bush tax cuts (4%)||Extending all Bush tax cuts (9%)|
- The number one priority of Americans, Democrats and Independents is passing a new stimulus bill to create new jobs. The number one priority of Republicans is repealing health care.
- The number two priority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents is cutting federal spending.
- The number three priority of Americans, Democrats and Independents is repealing the health care bill.
- The number four priority of Americans, Republicans, Democrats and Independents is extending all of the Bush tax cuts.
- Americans and Independents do not track on one single issue with Republicans over Democrats.
- More Republicans want to pass a new stimulus bill to create jobs than extend all the Bush tax cuts.
These are hardly the signals sent by a country that has swung wildly to the right.
It seems to be the pundits rather than the public who are obsessed with the right/left axis for judging every issue. The public just want jobs. They want the economy to get better. If one group of leaders doesn’t get it done, they throw them out and in a two party system, that means the other guys gets a shot again. If this was some big resounding affirmation of conservative priorities, extending the Bush tax cuts would be number one. But that seems to be the obsession of those in Congress on both sides of the aisle, not the public.
The country didn’t make some wild swing towards a conservative ideology in two years, nor can the defeats be blamed on “liberalism.” The Obama administration spent the majority of their time in office passing a health care bill that was founded on Republican principles, something Obama openly acknowledges. It was a theory of change nurtured by the Heritage Foundation, AHIP, PhRMA and the AHA, not by “liberals.” It did not solve the problem of health care in this country, but it wasn’t designed to. It was designed to make things better for the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and the hospitals. It did. Their stocks soared. If it had worked, and millions of people suddenly had access to health care who didn’t have it before, the story might have been quite different. And nobody would have cared where the ideas originated.
While pundits like Lawrence O’Donnell love to push every piece of analysis through the right/left puke funnel, the public judges the political landscape based on how their own lives have been impacted. And in 2010 they did not feel that the Obama administration spent their time and their energy on things that made their lives appreciably better. So they voted out the people they blamed for not getting it done, just as they did in 2006 and 2008.
The only mandate that the public is delivering with their votes is to make things better in ways that are meaningful to them. That should be obvious to everyone by now.
Update: I sincerely hope O’Donnell apologizes for the attack he made on Glenn Greenwald for living in Brazil when Glenn appears on his show tonight. Glenn lives there because the US does not recognize same-sex marriages, and his Brazilian partner cannot live in the US. Some minimal research would have turned up that fact.