America Political Economy

The Cognitive Dissonance of Midterms 2014

Midterms 2014 point to America’s cognitive dissonance. We statistically hate congress more than Obama, yet the congress that has been selected leads right back to the policies that we voted against this year.

In three states, voters simultaneously unseated democratic senators and pushed forward democrat labor policy: a minimum wage raise. Arkansas, Alaska, and South Dakota each voted for a new senator who would likely block a federal minimum wage. Nebraska held their sitting republican senator and also voted for a raise. Democrats introduced several bills between 2013-2014 to raise the wage.

Obama’s own state of Illinois passed a measure for equal voting rights while electing a republican Governor. It is widely understood that republican lawmakers and conservative judiciary have been passing shifty laws that undermine voting rights and some successfully disenfranchised voters this year.

Republicans won the mid-term battle without a clear policy agenda; they simply charged the anti-Obama machine with billions of dollars of political advertising. Ironically, Obama’s approval rating has ticked up from 40% just one week ago to 46% and holding steady since election day.

Voters think that the economy is still in ruin, but its not, their wages are. The President’s economic policies are proving a consistent track: jobs are up and more people are working. Deficit reduction has been effective under Obama, accepting several republican austerity policies. GDP is strong but consumer spending is down.

Too much of the new wealth since the recovery has gone off-shore, manifested in higher wages for the 1% or simply inverted with American companies moving abroad while operating in the United States.

The President knows that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour (tied to inflation so that it doesn’t become a political football every five years) coupled with equal pay measures for women would have the effect of ramping up wages across the board. Billions would be added to the labor force.

Consumer spending would go up, competition would keep prices relatively low while consumers would pay off debts, take vacations, or update their computers with the “extra money”. Corporate executives would be forced to stagnate their wages until profitability returned to the levels that allowed them to become filthy rich throughout the recovery period.

This is the message that democrats failed to agree on this mid-term election. A fatal mistake obviously, because that is precisely what voters needed to hear. Sullen and aloof democrats keep reiterating that Obama dragged down their numbers, but I argue that democrats were the ones dragging down Obama’s numbers.

Meaningless Campaign Drivel

Conservatives like to argue that they would downsize their labor force to curb the higher cost of labor, but really, that is why the unemployment numbers were high six years ago: they trimmed the fat to the bone. Even if some companies could lay off some workers for a while, job growth will continue surging in the hundreds of thousands and should naturally overtake the losses.

Polls and election results are showing that people are voting on the grounds of economic justice and civil rights, especially with immigration reform, which played a crucial role against the democrats in the mid-term, chiefly because the President failed to show initiative with executive order, over the summer this year. Republicans dropped the issue toward the end of their campaigns because they know their immigration policy is unpopular.

It is very likely that democrats running for reelection and against sitting republicans pressured him to relax and not to issue anything before elections. Because of their delay, protesters charged democratic campaign rallies across the country demanding new immigration policy. Before the sitting 113th United States Congress closes for the year, Obama plans to roll out that order. It is very likely that it was ready months ago.

This again strikes the issue of cognitive dissonance. Democrats are protesting against democrats. The voters are turning against the people in office they elected although they have not abandoned the policies, it is simply that the candidates failed to prove that their republican opponents were the problem in passing those policies.

Voter turnout hit a new low of 34% among registered voters while a vast population of at least 70 million are not even registered to vote. It correlates that when voter turnout is low, the more consistent republican voting base holds strong, as in the election of George W. Bush Jr. But when turnout reaches new heights, it turns out democratic gains, as in the election of Barack Obama, who enjoyed a democratic congress in his first two years.

Americans must not continue at this level of disengagement. When nearly four billions dollars are invested in to a mid-term election and the people sit that one out, they will be pissed to discover what they missed when commercials start rolling again two years later.

United States Senate Gains and Losses of 2014  (The Economist)
United States Senate Gains and Losses of 2014 (The Economist)
Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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