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Poll results: Right or Wrong Direction?

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  • Right

    9 60.00%
  • Wrong

    5 33.33%
  • Not going anywhere

    1 6.67%
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Thread: Right or Wrong Direction?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
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    Right or Wrong Direction?

    So, I was watching the news over my morning coffee and noticed there has been some pretty dramatic movement in the political polls over the last few months. Specifically, President Obama's approval rating remains consistently below 50% and Americans have lost confidence in the healthcare reform bill before the Senate. On the latter issue, the president is now taking heat from both conservatives and progressives, including former DNC chair Howard Dean.

    However, most surprising of all was the right direction/wrong direction poll, which is often cited as a bell-weather for future elections. According to NBC News, 33-percent of Americans believe the country is heading the right direction, with 55-percent believing the country is headed in the wrong direction. On one hand, this is a marked improvement over the polling at the end of President Bush's second term, where "right direction" supporters registered only in the low-teens. Still, as recently as April, President Obama had inspired significant optimism throughout the country, carrying an approval rating in the 60s and an even split between "right/wrong direction" respondents (43/43).

    Perhaps we generally read too much into the polls, but I'd like to hear people's opinions on the issue. As a country, are we headed in the right direction or wrong direction? Why? And, equally important, what has changed since Spring?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    It seems to me that we have merely changed lanes in a freeway going in the same direction as always. There hasn't been an actual compass change in direction, especially in matters of corporatism and political discourse. It's just that in this lane, different corporate and special interests rule the federal agenda than did the GOP administrations (both in Congress and the Executive, and sometimes they don't even mesh when they're both run by the same political party).

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I don't give the "right/wrong direction" poll question much weight. Most Americans tend to possess skepticism toward government, regardless of the conservative-liberal divide. It comes from being birthed as a nation in response to government oppression under England. The populist "us against the man" attitude permeates our culture, which means that when asked about the direction government is going, many, out of pure historic government skepticism, will check the box for no. The question becomes more interesting when you start breaking it down into policy areas, which force the respondent to think a little deeper than the simple direction of government overall.

    In addition, it is difficult to say what people are responding to when asked about the direction of the nation. Some might say it is going in a bad direction because of something the president is doing, an actual policy concern. Others might say it is going in a bad direction because of the lack of cooperation and civil discourse, which is an approach to public policy rather than the policy itself. Basically, it is a question that gives the 24-hour news networks fodder for a week of discussions without really describing anything about how Americans are feeling.

    Edit: For the record, I tend to agree with TexanOkie that we have not seen a material change in compass direction. Obama has done an OK job in my opinion, but he has not become the savior so many had hoped for. One only need look as far as the number of Goldman-Sachs alumni on the financial side of his cabinet to see this. And Congress... well... it continues its exercises in futility and ongoing bickering. Pelosi has done a crap job of steering the debate in a civil manner, and the whips for each party, along with the speaker and minority leader, need to be taken out back and whipped themselves.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    . It's just that in this lane, different corporate and special interests rule the federal agenda than did the GOP administrations ).
    bullocks! Its the same corporate interests that own both parties.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    bullocks! Its the same corporate interests that own both parties.
    I meant different corporations and organizations, not exactly different interests. I can only think of one prominent example otherwise - the financial system and Goldman Sachs.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    I don't give the "right/wrong direction" poll question much weight. Most Americans tend to possess skepticism toward government, regardless of the conservative-liberal divide. It comes from being birthed as a nation in response to government oppression under England. The populist "us against the man" attitude permeates our culture, which means that when asked about the direction government is going, many, out of pure historic government skepticism, will check the box for no. The question becomes more interesting when you start breaking it down into policy areas, which force the respondent to think a little deeper than the simple direction of government overall.
    I think what I was getting at with the poll, is not so much about what the numbers say in and of themselves, but what the trends say about our government. Many progressives had extremely high hopes for this administration... at one of the lowest points since the Great Depression, people were looking for transformational leadership. A year later, the economy has gotten worse, we have a controversial escalation/withdrawal strategy in Afghanistan, and the healthcare reform bill is a disaster.

    Is this the tipping point, where people no longer believe anything can be accomplished in Washington and a generation is turned off from politics? Many would argue that this has already happened, but a small minority had always held hopes for responsible governance and we saw a record voter turnout in 2008. Could 2012 be the year that everyone stays home? Is the under-40 generation going to be permanently jaded by the last 10 years?

    Call me a bit of an idealist, but the day we stop believing in American government-- as an institution, not specifically the suits who fill the congressional chambers-- is a pretty sad point in our history.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PrahaSMC View post
    . A year later, the economy has gotten worse
    exactly how has the economy gotten worse? Unemployment has slowed significantly since the early part of the year and in some cases has dropped. Signs of a recovery are slow, but showing from sectors due to the adjustments companies have made. Just because the economy hasn't turned around overnight doesn't mean it has gotten worse. What is your basis of this, jobs? If it is, the job sector is the last sector to typically turn around at the end of a downswing. So where are your facts?
    Last edited by Raf; 17 Dec 2009 at 12:09 PM. Reason: heh
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  8. #8
    Cyburbian PrahaSMC's avatar
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    My facts?

    U.S. unemployment by month:

    Sep 08: 6.20
    Oct 08: 6.60
    Nov 08: 6.80
    Dec 08: 7.20
    Jan 09: 7.60
    Feb 09: 8.10
    Mar 09: 8.50
    Apr 09: 8.90
    May 09: 9.40
    June 09: 9.50
    July 09: 9.40
    Aug 09: 9.70
    Sep 09: 9.80
    Oct 09: 10.20
    Nov 09: 10.00

    In the strictest academic sense, GDP grew in the third quarter of '09, so the technical recession is over. However, the U.S. economy has lost jobs in every single month since the recession began, including November when the jobless rate abated slightly. The economic news released today suggests that jobless claims are inching back up, after two weeks of good news. Regardless, unemployment has not "slowed significantly since the early part of the year," it has increased in a near linear fashion.

    Of course, jobs is a lagging indicator, but the risk of a "jobless recovery" is high and as many economists have written, in the post-industrial economy, the correlation between GDP output and employment is becoming increasingly loose, as we experience a wide-scale substitution of capital for labor (not trying to stir up a long economics debate here). Bottom line: the economy can grow, while employment stagnates... this has been proven true across Western economies for the past 20 years.

  9. #9
    As someone who considers himself to be fairly liberal, I'm highly disappointed in Obama. The one thing I was hoping he and the Democrats would NOT compromise on, healthcare, has been compromised to death and is now a half-ass version of what was supposed to be sweeping reform that would, you know, bring us into the 21st century. I was hoping we could actually be on par with the rest of the developed world (Canada, Western Europe, etc).

    But at least he's not Bush.
    Last edited by Jazzman; 17 Dec 2009 at 2:40 PM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I'm not a supporter of Obama, but I didn't like Bush either. At least for Obama, I can say he is honestly trying to do what he believes is best for the country. Or at least makes every effort to provide that appearance. I tend to vote right/wrong based on you can't get any more wrong than Bush's term. When it comes to health care, I don't think it's the best move, but again, at least he's trying to make a change. A plan in place is better than a perfect plan on the table.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I'm not a supporter of Obama, but I didn't like Bush either. At least for Obama, I can say he is honestly trying to do what he believes is best for the country. Or at least makes every effort to provide that appearance. .
    Thats the key. Obama talks a good game - but I really believe that he could care less about what's best for the country. He is too focused on trying to be "seen" as a good president. It's that preoccupation that unfortunately is gonna bite him in the butt and make him a complete failure.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Thats the key. Obama talks a good game - but I really believe that he could care less about what's best for the country. He is too focused on trying to be "seen" as a good president. It's that preoccupation that unfortunately is gonna bite him in the butt and make him a complete failure.


    I wouldn't quite take it to that extreme - I do believe he genuinely cares. However, I will concede that he cares too much about those poll numbers, and even worse, about "bipartisanship" and trying to be known as a president who "reached across the aisle". He has a sense of idealism that is both admirable and detrimental to anyone who chooses a career in politics. Quite frankly, sometimes the only people on the other side of the aisle are idiots. Sometimes the issues before you are so important that it doesn't matter if you do it with bipartisan support or not, because lives are on the line (as is the case with the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan or with healthcare reform). Sometimes the issues before you are human rights issues, issues that deserve the highest priority and most expeidiency, regardless of who signs on with you. I do find that to be his biggest flaw, and as I said before, I am disappointed in Obama. I expected so much more and not because I bought into that corny ass, "Yes-we-can" crap either.

    President Obama's story is so much like mine - we're both grew up as intellectually curious, biracial black kids with unconventional, non-religious upbringings who both see the world quite differently from most other people. To read The Audacity of Hope is like a glimpse in the mirror. I never thought I'd see that in an American president. I was a HUGE Obama supporter, and still want to give him a chance, recognizing the fact that he still has three years left to straighten up and fly right. But I'm growing increasingly cynical, day-by-day...................

  13. #13
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    As someone who considers himself to be fairly liberal, I'm highly disappointed in Obama. The one thing I was hoping he and the Democrats would NOT compromise on, healthcare, has been compromised to death and is now a half-ass version of what was supposed to be sweeping reform that would, you know, bring us into the 21st century. I was hoping we could actually be on par with the rest of the developed world (Canada, Western Europe, etc).
    This is something I hear pretty often from my more liberal friends, but I really struggle to grasp how people can pin this on Obama. The fact is everything piece of legislation passed is the result of compromise. Unless there is a really significant red herring (e.g. terrorist attack, natural disaster, terrorist attack, etc), it's nearly impossible to move anything swiftly through Congress that can be painted in any way as an "extremist" or "socialist" policy, no matter how untrue that characterization may be.

    There may be 58 so-called Democrats in Congress, but a quick look at the general political environment makes it pretty clear that doesn't mean 58% of the American people are liberal or left-leaning. Combine that with the general anti-incumbent sentiment and it becomes clear that many so-called Democrats are going to tack to the right to save their political lives in places like Nebraska, Louisiana, etc.

    This healthcare bill is, more than anything, a victim of bad timing, but I'm not sure it would fair that much better if the economy and jobs outlook were rosier. Either we get some health care reform or we stubbornly make the perfect the enemy of the good. A lot can be done later down the line through reconciliation, etc, but I'm going to be pretty pissed off if liberals shoot down the most significant healthcare reform legislation in 40 years just because it doesn't turn our system into single-payer (which I support, to some degree) overnight.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by kalimotxo View post
    This is something I hear pretty often from my more liberal friends, but I really struggle to grasp how people can pin this on Obama. The fact is everything piece of legislation passed is the result of compromise. Unless there is a really significant red herring (e.g. terrorist attack, natural disaster, terrorist attack, etc), it's nearly impossible to move anything swiftly through Congress that can be painted in any way as an "extremist" or "socialist" policy, no matter how untrue that characterization may be.

    There may be 58 so-called Democrats in Congress, but a quick look at the general political environment makes it pretty clear that doesn't mean 58% of the American people are liberal or left-leaning. Combine that with the general anti-incumbent sentiment and it becomes clear that many so-called Democrats are going to tack to the right to save their political lives in places like Nebraska, Louisiana, etc.

    This healthcare bill is, more than anything, a victim of bad timing, but I'm not sure it would fair that much better if the economy and jobs outlook were rosier. Either we get some health care reform or we stubbornly make the perfect the enemy of the good. A lot can be done later down the line through reconciliation, etc, but I'm going to be pretty pissed off if liberals shoot down the most significant healthcare reform legislation in 40 years just because it doesn't turn our system into single-payer (which I support, to some degree) overnight.

    The compromise I am referring to is the public option, which I believe was shot down in the House (either there or in the Senate). However, my general frustration with Obama is his pragmatic, compromsing attitude, and the Democrats in general with their assertion that they have to compromise. But if you can't pass liberal legislation with a majority in both houses and a president from your party in the Oval Office, when can you get it done? A lot of this criticism is, admittedly, geared more towards the Democratic Party as a whole, I suppose. When the Republicans have a majority in Congress and/or a president in office, this country leans FAR to the right and they get all kinds of crazy sh*t passed, like the Patriot Act. But when Democrats get in office, all of a sudden progress is so slow, things take time, yadda yadda. Again, this doesn't seem to be a problem when Republicans are in office.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jazzman View post
    A lot of this criticism is, admittedly, geared more towards the Democratic Party as a whole, I suppose. When the Republicans have a majority in Congress and/or a president in office, this country leans FAR to the right and they get all kinds of crazy sh*t passed, like the Patriot Act. .
    That isn't even a fair comparison. The Patriot Act was passed a month after 9/11/2001, when Bush's favorability hovered around 80% and his Justice Dept. was busy taking advantage of a scared, naive populace that just wanted to feel like the government was doing something (see reference to red herring in my post above). It's widely known that essentially no one in the Congress read the thing, and only Russ Feingold (for whom I have a ton of respect) voted against it in the Senate; 60 some Dems in the House voted against it. After a shock to the system like 9/11, the general concept of right wing/left wing tends to get jumbled into a more frantic "America, f**k yeah!" type mentality.

    Like I said though, that is really an apples to oranges comparison that doesn't really speak to the political reality we're seeing now. Were something to happen that really challenged, on a national scale, the viability of our health care system as it is now, you might see a critical mass for reform.... maybe.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian safege's avatar
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    I'm voting for right direction because I do a great deal of future predicting, and I'm half way there on a few.

    Robotics, and automation will cause an unemployment rate (including me) of 20-30%.
    The Singularity (machines as smart as humans) would be around 50-80%.

    The career I began 30 years ago will wink out of existence (custom photofinishing).

    Hillary Clinton will rate the highest for a politician in a national poll (happened).

    More purple States would appear every year, and more moderates would be elected to Congress as a result.

    Things are going well.
    Psychotics are consistently inconsistent. The essence of sanity is to be inconsistently inconsistent.
    -Larry Wall

  17. #17
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    The country's been headed in the wrong direction since about 2006 now. And I will acknowledge that Bush had a terrible 2nd term, particularly the 2nd half of it. But Obama is the President now. President Obama has had almost a year and has made no leeway on the economy whatsoever and it is very disheartening. A lot of people put their faith in Obama and the Democrats when they overwhelimingly elected them in 2008, since they're supposedly supposed to be better about handling economic issues, and all we've gotten is more debt and more jobs lost and the health care circus to distract us all. I will acknowledge that Obama has been good about listening to the other side and I very much admire his decision to initiate a Surge in Afghanistan, but people expected him most to fix the economy and I've seen no results. Even if it was a little something, I would give him credit. But it's just gotten worse and I am very concerned about the direction our country is heading in. I don't care who gets the credit for fixing the economy, but someone needs to do it, and do it quickly. All people want are jobs and financial security. If it weren't for my parents, I would ordinarily probably die of starvation and homelessness when I graduate in the spring.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  18. #18
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    I'm pretty sure we are not moving in ANY direction. It's the same old same old. Some of the actions have probably affected the depth of the recession, but that is just about impossible to confirm. The country is just too divided to be able to do much with health care. All I ever expected to get was a poor compromise. We will not be able to accomplish much in Afghanistan no matter how many troops we put in there. There are too many places to hide. We will chase the enemy back into the mountains and it will be a stalemate.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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