It can be easy to become immersed in Beltway politics, in which names like Tim Pawlenty, John Ensign, and Harry Reid are instantly recognizable – or debates over the Stupak Amendment can rage on for hours.
One wonders how much of this filters down to the average voter. Does he or she really know what the public option constitutes? How important, really, are the 2010 congressional elections to the normal citizen?
Several days ago, some political comments made by a non-politically-obsessed friend provided me some insight into how “normal” people think. This person, quite coincidentally, typified one component of the Obama coalition: she was a black college student, very intelligent, but no addict of Beltway politics.
On President Barack Obama’s main endeavor – health care – my friend was supportive enough. Health care obviously needed to be reformed, and it annoyed her that Republicans were opposing it to mostly to weaken Mr. Obama. But as for the 2010 congressional elections, my friend really didn’t give a damn. Last year we had gone to elect Obama, which was obviously important. Congressional elections, on the other hand – that didn’t exactly arouse intense passion. “What’s the worst that can happen; we lose control of Congress? So what?”
To me, this indifference provided a stark – and refreshing – contrast to the politics I read every day. This average voter considered next year’s ultimate political event relatively uninteresting, even insignificant. For pundits on MSNBC and liberal bloggers, losing control of Congress sometimes seems like the end of the world. It really isn’t – whether health care reform succeeds will influence Obama’s legacy far more than congressional elections nobody ever recalls. Sometimes the political world forgets that.
Which still doesn’t stop me from worrying over 2010.