by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Barone‘s latest column, posted at Human Events, responds to an interviewer’s question: “Why do you think President Obama’s job rating is falling, even though the economy is recovering?”
What’s wrong with the question is an assumption embedded within it, that what voters seek most from government and political officeholders is economic growth. I think there’s something they value even more: the maintenance of order.
This isn’t what I was taught in political science classes. Political scientists who had grown up in the 1930s’ Depression taught that politics was about “who gets what, when and how.”
Operating on that assumption, political scientists developed rules that explained past election outcomes as a function of economic variables — how much the economy grew in the second quarter of the election year, for example.
Those rules generally worked pretty well at predicting future elections — until they didn’t.
What they don’t explain very well are the political upheavals that come when voters perceive that the nation and the world are in disarray. Americans, blessed with a mostly happy history, tend to take fundamental order for granted. They recoil and rebel when things spin out of control. …
… Which brings us to today. Many things seem to be spinning out of control. Important government agencies are malfunctioning — the Internal Revenue Service, Veterans Affairs. Obamacare is producing higher health care premiums and is on track to deliver more.
Tens of thousands of underage and some not-so-underage Central American illegal immigrants are streaming across the Rio Grande, and the government is flying them to parts unknown — and sending 38 back to their home countries.
Abroad things are even worse. In Syria there is violent civil war, and next door in Iraq terrorists are proclaiming a caliphate. Israel has been forced to launch a ground attack on the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza.
A Malaysian airliner cruising at 33,000 feet over Ukraine has been brought down by a rocket, probably by thugs armed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The president, in-between fundraisers, has time for a photo-op playing pool in Colorado, but not for one on the border. He has time for only two sentences on the airliner shoot-down before a photo-op and two more fundraisers. First things first.