The Shockingly Short Political Memory of the American People

© Josh Sager – October 2014

Put simply and crassly, the American peoples’ memory for political events is little better than the attention span of a ferret, on crystal meth, in a mirror store.

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The average American is categorically incapable of remembering political events that happened more than a few months in the past, never mind accurately assigning blame and credit to the politicians involved.  Unfortunately, this is extremely dangerous, as it makes it virtually impossible to achieve democratic accountability at the polls—crimes and triumphs from last year are forgotten rather than used to make decisions.

Americans tend to vote based upon a snapshot of their circumstances at the time of the election (ex. if they are discontent, they want to throw out whoever is in power) and a combination of identity politics (ex. religion and party identification) and assumptions about the candidates’ positions (ex. what they see in campaign ads).Because a snapshot is rarely a good measure of who is to blame or who deserves credit for a situation, this leads Americans to be remarkably bad at voting for their interests.

This problem has been worsened by the incompetence of the mainstream media. They have completely fallen down on the job in terms of fact-checking, and have refused to remind the American people of pertinent information in the days before the election (ex. by giving a fair retrospective of the past two years and explaining the political/economic roots of Washington’s dysfunction). Additionally, the media has ignored the open secret that American politics is swamped with corrupting money, and have instead praised some of our politicians for their remarkable abilities to “raise money” (Read: accept legal bribes).

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Here is an example of this problem: the Bush Administration crashed the economy with a combination of deregulation, tax cuts, and overspending on needless wars—this crash hit as Bush was leaving office and left the incoming Democrat, Obama, a huge mess to clean up. Because Obama couldn’t immediately wave a wand and fix the immense damage that Bush’s conservative policies did the economy, many Americans began blaming him for their poor economic circumstances. This led them to become more attracted to his opposition and support the very policies that created the crash in the first place. In 2010, those people stood up and voted for these conservative dunces, while the Democrats forgot just how bad things could be if conservatives were allowed control again, thus failed to turn out and support the undeniably weak and center-right Democrats. At no point have the mainstream media outlets pointed out that the “new” right wing beliefs are the very ones that precipitated the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, and that the right wing is dealing in bad faith (trying to trick the American people by taking advantage of their ignorance).

In 2014, there is a very real chance that the American people will make an incredibly grave mistake by forgetting the last few years of politics and voting for the Republicans. They will temporarily forget the facts that the GOP shut down the federal government, voted dozens of times for throwing people off of their healthcare, obstructed every attempt at making the economy better, blocked the Violence Against Women Act, and, in general, did everything in its power to make this country ungovernable and miserable. While in the voting booth, these low-information Americans will simply try to “vote the bums out” and, because the Democrats are currently in the majority (but not in control), they will be hit the hardest.

Similarly, many Democratic voters are deeply disenchanted with the pathetic, center-right, corrupt, Democrats and will stay home. They don’t remember the right wing wave that came in 2010 when they made a similar choice to opt out and the subsequent chaos that was inflicted on this country.

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At the end of the day, everybody must take some time to vote, and base their decision on the facts. They must look at the last few years and assess their choices based upon the actual record rather than just looking at a few over-produced ads and voting with their “gut.” Unfortunately, this is unlikely given the evidence, but we all must play a part in making it more likely—go out and volunteer for a candidate, remind your friends what happens when the right wing has power in this country, sign people up to vote, and do everything you can to improve the turnout of left-wing Americans.

5 thoughts on “The Shockingly Short Political Memory of the American People

  1. “Americans tend to vote based upon a snapshot of their circumstances at the time of the election?” Don’t MOST voters all over the world do this too? That is assuming that they are not living in a country with only a superficial, false democracy and are in fear of being executed if they don’t vote for the candidate that controls the military at the time. “Because a snapshot is rarely a good measure of who is to blame or who deserves credit for a situation, this leads Americans to be remarkably bad at voting for their interests.” I actually agree with this second statement. This explains the 2008 and 2012 election results.

    Do you remember this lady?

    Conservatives and liberals have a parent and child relationship. Conservatives use past experience, look at the big picture, consider the future impact and use caution, common sense, facts and discretion to make the best choice at the time. Do all choices turn out to be perfect? Absolutely not. However, Conservatives are doers, liberals are only dreamers with no actual plan on how to make their dreams a reality. God (yes he is real) put liberals here for only one purpose and that is to occasionally cause chaos that the Conservative must then fix and by doing so, reaffirm the Conservatives commitment to decency and prosperity and to help educate Liberals which will eventually cause most of them to switch sides as they mature. The young tend to be rebellious, this is natural. Many teenagers and young adults tend to oppose whatever political party is in power during their youth. If you will remember, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson (both Democrats) were the presidents that escalated and prolonged America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and gave the hippies something to protest. It was Richard Nixon (Republican) that ended America’s involvement. No, I have not forgotten about the Watergate scandal. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the Republicans spying on the Democrats. I’m sure that both sides still continue to gather intelligence on each other by a variety of methods.

    I have a feeling that if George H.W. Bush had won reelection in 1992, Bob Dole been elected in 1996, Al Gore (or Bill Clinton) been elected in 2000 and reelected in 2004 and John McCain been elected in 2008, you would probably be a strong Conservative instead. Liberals need to just go outside and play and let the adults take care of things. Once in a while, it may be necessary to give the Liberals a treat to keep them quiet such as gay marriage or legalization of marijuana. I personally do not have a problem with gay or lesbian people getting married. Less than four percent of the US population identifies themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Making gay marriage illegal will not cause them to change their lifestyle or keep them apart. Making gay marriage legal will actually stimulate the economy due to wedding planning, taxes on marriage licenses, purchasing of insurance policies and sadly, the legal fees from divorce. Making marijuana illegal hasn’t stopped Liberals from buying, growing and using it. We might as well take advantage of the Liberals weakness and make money off of them by regulating marijuana and imposing taxes. It would be a good idea to legalize marijuana on a November 4th. That way, the Liberals will celebrate on that day instead of April 20th. They would be so impaired that they would forget to vote.

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  2. Ha ha ha!! Sorry, I was just reading Joe Citizen’s indictment of those pesky ” Liberal weed users”, and those icky “economy boosting Gays” … Ok I’m through laughing now.
    It’s true that – if there ever was an excuse for those nuts who believe that contrails are “chemtrails” ( which are spraying Americans with some sort of toxins) we are living in that time. It surely does seem sometimes, that a large proportion of Americans have been drugged into a hazy, glazed-eyed stupor as pertains to their lack of memories, and critical thinking abilities.
    If more people in the “who can hate who more” crowd votes, and more in their righteous minds stay home, well… as Bette Davis said in “All About Eve”: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night” –
    I do know one thing – the rich in this country don’t want smart people to vote, especially those with critical thinking skills. The 2% have spent millions trying to convince the stupid they’re smart, and scaring them into believing their very lives on on the line. And of course they are, just not in the way they think.

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