THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Referenda

Even though his name didn't appear anywhere on the ballot, last week's elections were an important referendum on Barack Obama.

In New Jersey, the voters sent a clear message: If Barack Obama were a bearded former investment banker who wore sweater vests and became unpopular for his handling of local New Jersey issues, they would not elect him Governor of New Jersey.

The people of Virginia were even more direct: If there were two candidates running and neither of them were named Barack Obama, they would not vote for Barack Obama. Virginians enjoy both syllogisms and meaningful political gestures.

What most Americans don't realize is that every decision we make is a referendum on President Obama. In fact, any time an American does anything at all, it is a demonstration of his or her support for, or opposition to, the President and his policies. Paying attention, Russia? That's how democracy works.

Some of these choices are readily apparent: If you wear a t-shirt that says "Obama for America," you are expressing support for the President's efforts to reform health care. But if you wear a different t-shirt, you might as well be on Capitol Hill, leading the fight against the public option.

Other preferences may seem insignificant but are no less obvious. Milk in your coffee? More troops in Afghanistan. Sugar in your coffee? Fewer troops in Iraq. Milk and sugar in your coffee? Invade Canada. I don't even need to tell you what it means if you drink tea.

Having all of our choices so fraught with political import can be exhausting. But it's also what makes being an American so wonderful: simply by turning on the television or buying groceries or even petting a dog or cat, we are exercising our right to express our views on Barack Obama.

In fact, it's almost as if we're voting every single day. So don't worry if you miss Election Day. If you're, say, one of the three million registered voters in New York City who didn't bother voting last week, you shouldn't feel bad. You already voted! And that's change we can all believe in.

(Wondering whether that last sentence was ironic or sincere? You just walked into another referendum on Barack Obama. Q.E.D.)