In national polls, President Joe Biden is cratering, sinking as low as a 33% favorability rating in one survey. The problem in the eyes of many pundits is the old bugaboo that President Bill Clinton’s political guru, James Carville, cited as the number one issue in every election: “It’s the economy, stupid!”
If that is so, it is because most voters are stupid when it comes to the economy. Right now, inflation is on the upswing and gas prices, in particular, have shot up at an alarming rate. Presidents get blamed for that kind of thing, and Biden is no different. But does that make any rational sense?
A big driver of inflation was the global supply chain breakdown that still has not been entirely resolved. Manufacturing and shipping disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic were the cause. The rising price of gas has been accelerated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Could Biden have prevented either the pandemic or Putin’s war? Of course not. And neither could any president.
What Biden did do on the economic front was provide very substantial economic aid to individuals and businesses that were hit hard by the pandemic shutdowns. That action allowed the economy to recover quickly to the point where, today, unemployment is at a historic low level. If it’s the economy, stupid, why does he not get credit for that? Or for passage of the massive infrastructure bill that will create thousands of new jobs and undergird the economy for years to come? Or for restoring competence to the departments of government that oversee economic programs?
Why? Because most people do not vote with their brains, they vote with their emotions.
Right now, many progressive Democrats are having a hissy fit because Biden has not done everything he promised. Have they not noticed that the U.S. Senate is divided 50-50? It is a political miracle Biden has been able to do as much as he has. If Democratic voters want more from their president, they would be stupid to sulk and stay at home on Election Day in November and let the Republican Party sweep the field.
Republican voters, of course, are so lost in QAnon stupidity and the culture wars that they are incapable of a rational assessment of Biden’s economic record.
And the swing voters who determine most elections are, as always, likely to be moved in whatever direction the prevailing political winds blow them. People capable of voting for President Barack Obama in one election and President Donald Trump in the next are not moored to logic, they are just easily distracted by the newest shiny object. And, sadly, however competent Biden may be, he does not shine. (Maybe it’s the celebrity, stupid.)
There used to be a myth about “the wisdom of the American people.” I think there has been more than enough evidence of widespread voter ignorance in recent years to explode that shibboleth. Democracy is still the best form of government, but that does not mean it isn’t a crap shoot with high stakes and no guarantees of a rational outcome.
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