June 19, 2011
What Did They Expect?

“When are people going to learn? Democracy doesn’t work.” Homer Simpson seems to me to have underestimated popular capacity, but not popular performance. Take, for hilarious example, Der Gropenführer.

Schwarzenegger now is seen negatively by 75 percent of state voters and has the approval of just 20 percent of Californian voters, with 5 percent having no opinion, according to the survey by Field Research. His ratings are worst in his hometown of Los Angeles, where 90 percent of respondents gave him a thumbs down, the poll showed.

He’s even lower rated than Gray Davis, whom he ousted in a slickly marketed recall election, or Pete Wilson, who managed his campaign, previously the two most unpopular governors of California.

This is stunning, just completely stunning. What sort of electorate can we hope to muster when people who lived around someone, saw his life, and watched his actions are shocked when the single most likely event actually happens? How can we hope to have a working democracy when the population at large is unable to predict even the most obvious future outcomes? Really, folks, you’re surprised to find that Ahnold has fathered a child outside his marriage? Do you need directions to the bathroom?

Bob Altemeyer talks about the authoritarian mindset operating from above and below, one imposing and the other seeking controlled situations. Twenty-first century Americans project similar unconscious archetypes onto authority figures, a trend especially noticeable among those whose religious beliefs persuade them that some entity outside themselves will do the work involved in saving them.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at June 19, 2011 01:34 AM
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As far as I know, most voters are voting and opining defensively and/or punitively. If the economy was providing, Der Gropenführer could weather this easily. The bandwagon effect he's getting is opportunistic. Any tawdry little disgrace that could get legs in the media would do just as well.

This is not to downplay Altemeyer's research. But in this case I believe the control-seeking is focused more on a system than on any personality fronting for it.

Posted by: Jim on June 19, 2011 7:06 AM
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