How Common Sense, Bipartisan Swing Voters F-ck Themselves. And Us.

Well, Paul Waldman put it more politely, but he does make a very good point (boldface mine):

Unfortunately, when they swing it’s often based on the vaguest of ideas about what a change in leadership would produce. Dissatisfaction over inflation, for instance, gets translated into a vote for change, in whatever form it seems to be offered. If Democrats run Washington but Republicans run your state, why not vote for a Democrat for governor and a Republican for senator?

The problem is that even if you get the election outcome you chose — the bums being thrown out — there’s almost no reason to think it will produce the practical outcome you wanted

And even at moments when swing voters do object to particular policies, what they get when they give the opposition control of Congress is not a change in policy but a two-year halt to policymaking. For Republicans at the moment, that would be fine: Stopping Democrats from passing any more legislation, and having a Congress that would harass the Biden administration with endless investigations, is exactly what they want.

But those swing voters hoping for “change” would get only gridlock and partisan conflict, which is exactly what they always say they despise. In focus groups of independent voters, the lament “Why can’t they stop squabbling and get things done?” is like “Margaritaville” at a Jimmy Buffett concert: Whatever else gets played, you can count on that number coming up sooner or later.

Yet those same people vote for gridlock again and again, in the mistaken belief that when something happens that they don’t like, voting out whoever is currently in office will fix it. That might work in presidential elections, but in midterms (at least at the federal level), the choice isn’t really between two policy visions — it’s between one set of policies, and putting all policymaking in suspended animation until the next presidential election.

If professional Democrats made this clear–and put blame where it belongs, even at the risk of pissing off editorial boards and Very Serious People–they would do better. But too many Democrats are still scared to speak plainly about what the opposition will do–and then repeat that over and over.

And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.

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