Sunday, October 23, 2011

Michigan as a Leading Indicator

See if this rings a bell. Greg Sargent (with an assist from the AP) describes a voter that has soured on Obama because of the GOP's policy of pure obstruction.

The Associated Press, in a story about the new AP poll, interviews a voter who captures the dynamic perfectly:

“If Romney and Obama were going head to head at this point in time I would probably move to Romney,” said Dale Bartholomew, 58, a manufacturing equipment salesman from Marengo, Ill. Bartholomew said he agrees with Obama’s proposed economic remedies and said partisan divisions have blocked the president’s initiatives.

But, he added: “His inability to rally the political forces, if you will, to accomplish his goal is what disappoints me.”

And there you have it. This voter agrees with Obama’s policies, but blames the failure to get them enacted on generalized partisanship and Obama’s inability to roll over the GOP — and is prepared to vote against him as a result.

I don’t know if this voter is representative of broader sentiment or not, but I suspect he is, and his reaction to what’s happening is important to flag as a clue to a dynamic we should be watching. Voters either don’t understand, or they don’t care, that the GOP has employed an unprecedented level of filibustering in order to block all of Obama’s policies, even ones that have majority public support from Dems, independents and Republicans alike.

Their reaction, in a nutshell, seems to be: The Obama-led government isn’t acting on the economy? Obama can’t get his policies passed? Well, he must be weak.

Wow, does that sound familiar. And horrifying to those of us who have lived it before.

Indeed, if the GOP’s strategy is to deliberately create government dysfunction out of a belief that the public will blame Obama for it and lose faith on government in general, turning to GOP ideology instead, it very well may be working. The new AP poll finds that only 41 percent say government can do much to create jobs, a finding that’s borne out in other polls.

So, how did that work out for us here in Michigan?

Pray the nation looks to us as a leading indicator in politics as well as economics. The Bishop Playbook taken to a national scale is already paying dividends for the GOP, and we've got one year to figure out how to stop it. The dynamics are different of course, and unforeseen events can and will change the trajectory between now and then - but just be aware that this is happening, and do what you can to point it out.

The GOP may be doing a good job of imploding on its own, but we can't take the chance that this gambit works - or we will never see the end of it.