Michele Bachmann cannot win the presidency of the United States. She will get in her own way before that happens and these straw polls are at best useful to G.O.P. strategists and fundraisers. But winning today’s Republican straw poll in Iowa today says a lot about more important things than Michele Bachmann. It says something very sad and frightening about the state of our democracy.
The issue isn’t so much Republican leadership and candidates as much as it is the fact that this particular set of G.O.P. political candidates — people like Bachmann — appear on ballots at all. You might even expect a cameo from David Duke at any time.
Up and down the line of G.O.P. contenders is a whole lot of self-serving stupidity and reckless political gaming. How does this happen?
The problem starts with you and me…the American voter. Seeing what we see happening on the political right says all we need to know about the state of political sophistication in the United States. It is pathetic. Voters need to be better informed. They need to know more about the issues and take the time to be informed.
You only need a little common sense and some basic knowledge of facts to see that things are not right. Lack of this sort of personal due diligence is especially absent on the conservative side of the political spectrum. Lies and opinions matter more than facts and reason.
There does seem to be a subtle shift away from thoughtless political obedience, but it doesn’t impress me. Today Charles M. Blow wrote in the New York Times that the Tea Party is enjoying less support in recent months. That might be true, but saying that 40% of people polled have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party is about 60 points short for my liking.
It is time we stop pretending that Tea Party members are smart patriotic Americans. They are not. And the fact that the Tea Party has hijacked what is supposed to be the G.O.P. mainstream is frightening, it is frightening not so much because we saw the Tea Party’s Bachmann win a straw poll, but frightening because so many of us seem to think their ideas — for what they are — will solve America’s problems.
In a democracy responsibility falls on the shoulders of the public, and so in our situation the public holds the blame for the decline of quality and ability in political leadership.