A while back, I asked my very frustrated mother-in-law why she voted for Barack Obama, and she shrugged, “I could only go by what I heard.”
She meant the nightly network news shows, which she and Pop watch or listen to while they bustle around the kitchen.
It didn’t matter that a sister-in-law and I had both warned her that Obama was inexperienced or that she might not like his policies. We were not the press. We were not the people who write headlines and speak with solemn surety before microphones; we were not invested with the authority of an established public trust.
Information worth listening to was the provenance of the press. For her generation, the press was meant to be listened to and trusted.
At a large, multi-generational family gathering this past weekend, inevitable discussions arose about the economy, jobs, and the bleak outlook for the immediate future. The general consensus was that our president is a failure, the congress is a wreck, and there is no authenticity or originality in our leadership, nor in our press. A majority in attendance—both Democrats and Republicans—had voted for Barack Obama (a few grudgingly, as they had supported Clinton) but while everyone expressed disappointment (there was not a single voice raised in support of the president) the senior citizens confided a deep sense of betrayal—of their trust being shattered. When I asked one of them, a former “Reagan Democrat” who had voted for Dole, then Bush, then Kerry why she had pulled the lever for Obama, she threw up her hands helplessly, “all I knew was what I heard! That other guy seemed too hot-headed and that Sarah Palin; she just wanted to play dress-up!”
And that was the general response from that side of the room: “I paid attention; I read all the papers—they all loved this guy!”
“He was new! We needed change!”
But not, as it turns out, the kind of change we are currently experiencing. Asked if they regretted their vote, to a one they said “yes.” Most of them said they wished, in retrospect, that they had voted for Hillary Clinton who “at least understood that the economy…it’s the economy, right? Stupid?”
Anecdotally, it seems the seniors are done believing the press, or beings scared by the headlines. They’re looking at the tomorrows of their children and grandchildren, and they’re shaken. Read the whole thing.
I do wonder, though, if the seniors don’t see anyone they like — if no one jumps out of the pack from the GOP — will the seniors simply revert to relying on the press? I suppose it’s a possibility. But it’s no longer a sure thing, I don’t think.
UPDATED: Because, ultimately, the seniors are not saps
Victor Davis Hanson: The Obama Catharsis