Sorry Media, This Election Won’t be About the Economy and Jobs

The mainstream media has constructed a storyline that the 2012 election is all about the economy and jobs, but what if it isn’t?

Today’s news that the unemployment rate has ticked up to 8.2% has brought about the usual media howls about how this is total and comprehensive doom for Obama. Mitt Romney put out his usual daily statement about the president being a failure, and Republicans blamed Democrats, while Democrats blamed Republicans, but beneath all of this back and forth is an unproven premise that this election is all about the economy and jobs.

The problem is that this election probably won’t be about the economy and jobs, and the whole ball of wax is based on something that doesn’t exist. All of this chaos and courtship is designed to target a myth which dates back to the founding of our nation, the myth of the rational voter.

Thomas Jefferson wrote of the virtues of an informed electorate, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.”

Back in Jefferson’s day with voting limited to a very small group of white men, it was easy to have an informed electorate, but over time our politics have changed. In the modern era, an informed electorate is a bad thing that must be avoided. We now have an entire political party (Republican) who rejects information and intellectualism in favor of an ideological and religious belief system.

Republicans win elections not by informing voters, but by confusing them. Facts are drowned out by a constant thunderstorm of deceptive thirty and sixty second campaign ads that are intended to confuse voters and turn facts into questions. What exists today is a system that is designed to keep the electorate uninformed.

The premise of the rational voter is that people have access to facts and information. They weigh the facts and information, and they make a rational choice to vote for a candidate based on those facts.

What really happens is that voters are confused by a myriad of conflicting ads, and lacking the information they need to make the rational choice, they go with their gut and vote for the candidate that they like the best. In reality, voters are more likely to be swayed by the fact that Mitt Romney has the personality of a used car salesman than a one tenth increase in unemployment is often overlooked by the political chattering class. (After all it is only June, and they need something to talk about until the fall.)

Voters don’t behave rationally. Poor people vote Republican even when doing so goes against their rational self interest. George W. Bush won reelection in 2004 despite the fact that the nation had already soured on his war, more war, and perpetual war policies. Voters often make their decisions based on emotional and ideological reasons.

The question that most often determines the outcome of a presidential election isn’t am I better off than I was four years ago, but do I want this person coming into my living every day for at least the next four years?

The reality is that voters aren’t strictly rational. This is why the Romney campaign is hoping that they throw enough negative ads on the air to take away Obama’s personal popularity, and in the end the Obama campaign is hoping that the president’s popularity and the personal goodwill he has generated will carry him to reelection.

The media and the campaigns will continue to cackle and crank out the messages on the issues and false story lines, but in the end voters will elect the next president based on a simple question.

Which candidate do I like best?

15 Replies to “Sorry Media, This Election Won’t be About the Economy and Jobs”

  1. Rott is inherently unlikable. The one thing going for him is that he’s white. That’s what the voters are going to be weighing. But what this election is really about is how much voter suppression and Diebolding there is.

  2. Nailed it Jason. Voters who hate the President will never be convinced his policies are in their best interests so they’re lost causes. People like Obama because they believe he’s working for all the people and genuinely attempting to help them. It’s easy to like a candidate if one thinks he’s on your side, and the President projects that in word and deed.

  3. the myth of the rational voter


  4. The desperately media want discussion of corporate corruption of government taken off the table. This is the clearest bias in the media today.


    Yes, we call them liberals or democrats =) Sometimes independents!

  6. Remember GIGO?* It works the same for people as for computers.

    (*GIGO = Garbage In; Garbage Out)

  7. (Laugh!) Very true, and with the way the Mainstream Media is pushing propaganda and lies on the people, no wonder Romney and the Republicans aren’t laughed out of the races.

  8. So true. The presidential election is basically a beauty contest in which we elect the person we like the best. Very little rationality is involved. Too often people figure ‘well we didn’t get what we want from that guy, let’s see what the other guy can do.’

  9. The MSM is highly invested in the idea that Mitt Romney = Smart Businessman, and is optimistic that Romney’s business experience will give white voters the chance to say, hey, I’m not a racist, I just think we need a Smart Businessman to lead the country right now.

    Unfortunately for them, we the people are actually daring to question the validity of the Mitt Romney = Smart Businessman question, and Romney’s failure to develop a clear lead in the “best for the economy” poll questions is causing them great tsuris.

    The blowback that corporatist Dems like Cory Booker and Bubba Clinton are getting scares the hell out of the employees of Disney, Comcast, GE and NewsCorp who try to dictate the terms of our political discourse.

  10. The GOP wants to dumb down America in every way possible. They cut educational funding; they cut teachers; they destroy unions, they want to increase college loans, Romney says shop around for college and borrow money from your parents (what a disconnection), and on and on. They prevent jobs for college grads who owe massive college debt.

    The main stream media is doing every thing they can to keep the lies and misleading information on a 24/7 cycle. Few journalists with integrity challenge the GOP. And with surrogate DEMs going off message who needs enemies? The GOP controlled Congress refuses to act for the good of the nation. They literally honor pledges that will destroy the country.

    The GOP controlled Supreme Court is supposed to uphold the US Constitution but now they’re taking active roles in making laws for the US like Citizens United which has put America up for the highest bidder no matter who that is.

    The media honors the false claims of billionaires like Trump and Ricketts. The GOP is reducing the US to the dogs for profit and ideology and there’s enough misinformed people to allow it to happen. Wake up America before we are all in servitude to Corporate America and the billionaires.
    Great article Jason.

  11. Joy you hit a grand slam.The Almighty media is dangerous…they publish what they want and thrive on lies & b.s. instead of bringing truth to the people.

  12. Put all the things you mention in your second sentence together along with a bunch more and you see a conservatism or a movement that wants to take over the US. Whether by political or religious means. I do not feel anyone is putting all this together to its eventual ends. We need a Hari Seldon to show us what the end is

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