Kevin the cable guy came to my house to work on our cable hookup today. Our conversation shows why, in this election:
* Obama is barely hanging onto a lead by his fingernails, and
* the GOP is likely to hold the House and take the Senate,
instead of the Dems cruising comfortably to victory as in 2006 and 2008.
More below the pile of orange bird poop.
Kevin the cable guy is young, probably 25-28, and white. We live in the Atlanta suburbs--a red part of a red state. Our conversation shows a big reason why it remains red.
After Kevin finished working on the cable, I asked him if he was a cable-company employee or an independent contractor. "Independent contractor."
Do you have health insurance, Kevin? "No."
Are you registered to vote? "Yes."
Are you gonna vote Democratic? "No."
Here's the deal, Kevin. If the Democrats win, then on 1/1/14 you'll be able to get health insurance at cheap group rates, with a wide choice of plans, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and the government will help you pay for it.
And if the Republicans win, you won't get insurance.
"Well, I guess I'll vote Democratic then."
No he won't. He's just a polite young man who gets a bonus if enough customers give him a good rating in customer-satisfaction surveys. (Which I did, and I hope he gets his bonus.)
What's wrong with this picture? Why wasn't Kevin convinced of voting Dem before he even walked through my door?
It's because the Dems didn't deliver real, tangible, present-tense healthcare reform and lower unemployment. If people had healthcare already, the GOP would have to run against that reality--run on the threat to take it away, instead of the promise they'll save us from the Commie tyrant "takeover."
(If you downed a shot of whiskey every time some GOP stooge said "takeover" since 2009, you'd now be looking for a new liver.)
And if the unemployment rate were lower already, then the Dems wouldn't be having to try to convince people things would be even worse without the stimulus, and that they'll get better sooner or later.
The reason is basic human behavior--people consider present or immediate benefits to be far more important than benefits promised for the future. Wikipedia on "hyperbolic discounting":
Given two similar rewards, humans show a preference for one that arrives sooner rather than later. Humans are said to discount the value of the later reward, by a factor that increases with the length of the delay. This process is traditionally modeled in form of exponential discounting, a time-consistent model of discounting. A large number of studies have since demonstrated that the constant discount rate assumed in exponential discounting is systematically being violated...More recently these observations about discount functions have been used to study saving for retirement, borrowing on credit cards, and procrastination. It has frequently been used to explain addiction.This human thought process is as old as...humanity. Hell, probably even older. So Obama, Reid, Pelosi should have seen this coming. Their allowing healthcare reform to not kick in (mostly) till 2014 was a huge political blunder. If it had kicked in before the 2010 elections, Pelosi would still be Speaker of the House, Reid would command a filibuster-proof Senate majority, and they'd now by popular demand be carving Obama's smiling face into a 5th spot on Mt. Rushmore.
The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions—racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war—which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action...He [H.G. Wells] was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity.I'm sure there were rational, sane reasons to put off the great expansion of healthcare till 2014. And they weren't worth a damn.
Let's hope our Dem leaders have learned that...and that they get a chance to prove it.