The phrase "enthusiasm gap" is echoing across the media. Pundits speak about it like it's an actual thing, its existence verified by whatever the pollsters interpret the numbers to mean. I thought the enthusiasm gap referred to the excitement one feels on a first date and how it declines as the relationship doesn't live up to your fantasies of what that partner should be. In both cases, people become disappointed as their unrealistic expectations slam into the wall of reality. That disappointment often turns into apathy.
The Tea Party/Republicans are reported to be energized, angry and mobilized; ready to hand the Democrats a walloping in November and take back control of the House and the Senate. That's what we've been hearing from the media for the past several months. Every primary is assigned some special significance: "a referendum against Obamacare," "anti-incumbency fever," "a proxy war," between Palin and Huckabee or between Clinton and Obama, as if that's who the public was actually voting for.
How does the media hype stack up to what actually happened? 98 percent of incumbents were nominated, not exactly "anti-incumbency fever." The "proxy war" was a fictional media event. It only illustrated who was most effective at getting exposure, not a predictor of outcomes or what they meant.
Republican Senate candidate in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell is getting lots of exposure too -- none of it good -- for her. Christine is the latest in a long line of Tea Party endorsed Republican candidates that have extreme views. The Republican Party has a big tent, big enough to embrace the strong anti-masturbation message of O'Donnell alongside the pornographic emails distributed by Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for Governor of New York.
The list of extremist candidates includes Sharron Angle, Republican Senate candidate from Nevada who would like to eliminate Social Security, The Department of Energy, The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education. Until O'Donnell came along, Angle posed a threat to the Palin/Bachman ability to get media time for outrageously stupid statements.
Like Palin, O'Donnell hopes that women who supported Hillary Clinton will support her. O'Donnell told CNN "I would love Hillary Clinton's endorsement." I'm sure she would. Other than the fact that Clinton is diametrically opposed to everything O'Donnell stands for. O'Donnell is delusional enough to think she appeals to the women who supported Hillary because she too is a woman.
The Tea Party backed candidates claim to want the government out of our lives, but they want to insert the government in the middle of a woman's right to choose, even in the case of rape and incest. Rand Paul, the Republican senate candidate from Kentucky would like to roll back the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so the Federal Government has no say regarding racial discrimination. Joe Miller, the Republican Senate candidate from Alaska claims the Federal Government should not guarantee a minimum wage or social security, which should be left up to each state. They are social conservatives, back on the front lines of the same culture war that Newt Gingrich tried to wage during the Clinton administration, until his own sex scandals got in the way. Gingrich recently made the news cycle for his quasi intellectual, completely incomprehensible quote calling Obama an "unknowable, exotic Kenyan colonialist."
Republicans claim fiscal responsibility yet want to maintain the Bush tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest people. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the tax cuts added 2.3 trillion dollars to the current deficit and were not affordable in the first place. Federal taxes as a percentage of the GDP are at their lowest rate since the Truman administration.
The media legitimizes the extreme by creating a narrative that puts them in the forefront. There is no challenging the legitimacy of the ideas or placing them into any context. People are probably more concerned with how many are getting laid off as opposed to how many are jerking off -- even in Delaware. We know what all these candidates are campaigning against. What are they for? Are there any concrete proposals any of these candidates have for creating jobs? For helping the economy to recover? For our involvement in Afghanistan? Instead, these alleged champions of individual rights and fiscal responsibility are trampling all over them.
Obama was first accused of trying to do too much too fast -- then accused of doing too little and compromising too much. Despite the constant Republican efforts to blockade all legislation regardless of its benefit -- the Democrats actually accomplished some things. Many are upset that healthcare reform didn't go far enough, but it happened. Now no one can be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions. Although many felt banking reform didn't go far enough, it happened. So did the Credit Card Holder's Bill of Rights, even though the banks are combing through it for loopholes, and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma stuck in a rider which allows people to carry guns in national parks. A comprehensive bill improving benefits for veterans has been put through. Although there are still troops in Iraq, withdrawal has begun. Student loan reform happened. Job growth has been very slow, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 3.5 million jobs were saved by the Economic Recovery Act, as well as the American automobile industry.
We have become a very impatient people with a national case of attention deficit disorder. If what we hope will happen doesn't happen right away, we become disinterested. If our fantasy isn't realized we become disappointed. The "enthusiasm gap" is another phrase for apathy. Look at the alternative. Apathy doesn't win elections, votes do.