We are, once again, witnessing what the media does best, whipping up a public frenzy over an event or, in the present case, the primary elections they are seeking to influence.
The most current example is the forthcoming Iowa caucuses and, as Michael Barone noted in a December 27 Wall Street Journal commentary, Iowa is hardly a bellwether predicting who will be the Republican nominee to oppose Barack Obama.
In “As Iowa Goes, So Goes Iowa” Barone, a respected political analyst, noted that “the Hawkeye State has voted for the eventual Republican candidate only twice—in 1996 for Bob Dole, in 2000 for George W. Bush—and only once was the Iowa winner elected president.”
You would not know that from the 24/7 election coverage of the cable news channels, nor the print media coverage. For Republicans, the greatest concern is that a literal handful of Iowans might vote for Rep. Ron Paul who is to the left of Barack Obama on most issues.
For my part I have tried to ignore Ron Paul as much as possible, but he is getting the full media treatment, including an appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. The views he expresses are pure lunacy. He supports legalizing drugs, shrinking the military, isolationism, and all manner of policies that would incalculably harm the nation.
The whole primary process, along with the many debates, is intended to winnow out the weakest candidates. Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain are already gone. After the Iowa caucuses, no doubt Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman will cease to be serious contenders. Rick Perry has proven himself to be a good governor, but a poor national candidate. Newt Gingrich is waning under close examination.
Mitt Romney is beginning to look like a paragon of experience and rationality.
Insofar as the national media catapulted Barack Obama into the White House, we need to be especially wary of the media’s enthusiasms for one candidate or the other and, at this stage, its “horse race” mentality.
Elections are a study of mass movements, the gathering of supporters coalescing around a particular candidate, and they say much about the national mood.
If the polls are any indication, Obama’s consistently falling approval numbers, despite the occasional blip, suggest that most voters with the exception of diehard liberals are deserting him after three years of crippling national debt, continued high unemployment, flatlining housing prices, his war on energy and the states struggling to deal with illegal immigration. Even liberal news media are pulling back from the adoring coverage he once generated.
Years ago in the 1950s a blue collar philosopher, Eric Hoffer, penned a book, “The True Believer”, that became a national bestseller. Hoffer had devoured the works of great thinkers as he rode the rails during the Depression years, worked in the fields, and became a longshoreman.
Hoffer’s book, still in print, had some insights regarding mass movements that are well worth revisiting. It was written in response to the likes of Hitler and Stalin, but it holds true for the current enthusiasms of Ron Paul’s supporters and those who cling to Obama’s myths.
Well before Obama’s vacuous offer of “hope and change”, Hoffer wrote, “For the hopeful can draw strength from the most ridiculous sources of power—a slogan, a word, a button. No faith is potent unless it is also faith in the future; unless it has a millennial component”, i.e., a hoped-for period of happiness, peace, prosperity, and justice. Obama has not delivered on any of these.
“Every established mass movement has its distant hope, its brand of dope to dull the impatience of the masses and reconcile them with their lot in life.” Americans, however, may be the most impatient people on Earth.
The utter failure of the Obama administration and the wreckage it has left in its path quickly mobilized a leaderless movement called the Tea Party. Its rejection of Obamacare and other administration policies and programs is the background music to the battle in Congress between those advocating the failed programs of the Democratic Party and the large contingent of newly-minted Tea Party-supported Republicans is evidence of a mass movement that the media continues to disparage.
Even those who do not identify themselves as Tea Party patriots will play an important role in the 2012 elections. Their power is revealed in the Democratic Party’s announcement that it will not seek votes from white, middle class working people, but concentrate instead on those on the government dole, union members, and those who want the status quo.
A national election is an exercise in propaganda, but Hoffer noted that “The truth seems to be that
propaganda on its own cannot force its way into unwilling minds; neither can it inculcate something wholly new; nor can it keep people persuaded once they have ceased to believe.” That is Obama’s dilemma and downfall. His endless speeches fall on deaf ears these days and will in 2012.
The 2012 elections will not be decided, nor even influenced by the outcome of the Iowa caucuses. For that we need to watch New Hampshire on January 10, South Carolina on January 21, and most especially, Florida on January 31.
We need more faith in a future without Barack Obama; one that is barely a year away.
We need more faith in the U.S. Constitution and continue to demand that it be obeyed.
We need more faith in our communal past. Hoffer wrote, “It was not the irony of history that the undesired in the countries of Europe should have crossed an ocean to build a new world on this continent. Only they could do it.” America continues to be a work in progress.
Pay no heed to the media’s arrogance, wedded to failed socialist programs. Pay no heed to Ron Paul’s lunacy. Pay no heed to Obama’s lies. We shall win through to a restored America.
© Alan Caruba, 2011