My 2 Cents on Palin, Obama, Dumb Voters, & the 2008 Election

Robert Zullo of the Houma Courier (of Houma, Louisiana, in Terrebonne parish, near New Orleans) interviewed me on Thursday on the 2008 election. His article in today’s paper very nicely captures how voters are making decisions as they head towards the voting booth.

He kindly included a number of quotes from me in his piece, which I reckon I can reprint without trampling federal copyright law.

Local voters weigh in on their presidential picks

By Robert Zullo
Senior Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, October 12, 2008
James Bovard, a former journalist and Libertarian-minded author of “Attention Deficit Democracy” and other books on the state of American government and the U.S. electorate, said the 2008 campaign has been “a great year for cynics.”

Bovard said “sound bytes and slurs” exert too much influence on the electorate. “Folks have been satisfied with phrases instead of making the effort to understand the policy,” he added.

Part of the problem, Bovard said, is government has become much bigger, policies have become more complex and, at the same time, the average citizen has made little or any effort to keep up.

“This basically puts politicians on the honor system,” Bovard said, adding that distortions and falsehoods spread by campaigns are aided by news media that can be “cowardly” or just as ignorant as the voters they seek to inform. “It’s easier to get away with lies nowadays.”

…In the last eight years, much of which was dominated by the Republican party control of the executive and legislative branches, the GOP has “expanded government in so many ways,” Bovard said, pointing to farm subsidies and Republican complicity in the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

“People have gotten vested in politicians and certain political parties and they are blind to the faults and blind to the lies,” Bovard said.

Voters and media also fail to fully investigate campaign issues, such as Barack Obama’s support for increasing ethanol production.

“This is a good example of an ultimate bogus issue,” he said. “It’s a very poor source of fuel, but it’s good for the farm lobby.”

Bovard also said he was mystified by the popular excitement generated by Obama and Palin in their respective parties.

“Something I find almost comical is that some of the Obama supporters seem to think the only thing that’s necessary in order to have a government that serves people is a new set of politicians in charge. Both parties are complicit in many of the abuses of the last eight years,” Bovard said.

Given her lack of experience, he was also amused by that “people have read so many positive qualities” into Palin, who was the mayor of small Alaskan town just two years ago.

“All of a sudden she’s a new Joan of Arc,” he said.

“First and foremost she’s a politician,” Bovard said, adding that to some extent the same phenomenon extends to Obama. “Folks somehow think these two people have somehow transcended the follies that are the bad traits of their class. … It’s almost as if people are desperate for a savior. I think that explains some of the reaction to Palin and also Obama.”


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9 Responses to My 2 Cents on Palin, Obama, Dumb Voters, & the 2008 Election

  1. Jean October 13, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    Jim, it’s really difficult to watch TV or listen to radio when they talk about the election. It seems that the “ACORN” crisis is more important than the FED created monetary crisis, or that Gov. Palin’s glasses are more important than the war or loss of civil liberties. Reading your books, and going to conference offers a ray of hope in these troubling times. Great job again Jim!!!

  2. Dirk W. Sabin October 13, 2008 at 2:50 pm #

    Isn’t that spelled “Joan of Arse”.

    Cynicism is the new Pragmatism

  3. Cousin Kevin October 13, 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    so you won’t be endorsing Obama after all? 😉

  4. willb October 14, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    “Something I find almost comical…”


    Our representatives have now placed
    unelected bureaucrats above any court
    in the land.

    Should I laugh, or cry?

  5. Jim October 14, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Jean – I’m glad that you’re finding rays of hope in these times.

    Hope the aren’t a new Pentagon secret weapon.

  6. Jim October 14, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Dirk – great quip on cynicism!

  7. Jim October 14, 2008 at 11:33 pm #

    Kevin – I’m a Bob Barr supporter – He is offering a real alternative to the main parties.

  8. Marc October 16, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    Palin may be a novice but I suspect that if elected she will quickly master the ability to say “financial rescue package”, “public works projects” and “war on tareism”. I’m assuming, of course, that those political agendas will be on the front burners in the months and years ahead.

  9. Adam S. October 17, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    I believe that this should be the theme song for the year. It is amazing how irrelevant the campaign and the issues are in a long history of irrelevant issues and presidencies. Your comments are sad, but true, Bob Barr offers some alternatives, but as Lew Rockwell noted, the Libertarian Party is about to join other third parties on the ash heap of history. The real interesting thing about this election is that it has rendered itself trivial in the minds of people. There is a real sense of discontent and long time grievances that the State can’t just wish away.
    McCain (Il Duce) or Obama (Uncle Ho) will be a one term president; yet that president will be the one who socializes totally the American economy. I believe the best course of action is to push the government to the extreme and let it collapse. I am tired of defending the Constitution or monarchy, or democracy, or dictatorship. Let the whole thing fall apart and see what emerges. In the coming years, there will be a ground surge of real libertarian projects coming down the pike. I see a good chance of this because the libertarians for once have passion and some novelty, which the Republicrats entirely lack.
    I wish there were more to say, but this election has been as interesting as a bite from a kitty litter sandwich. I wish that we could send Obama/Biden & McCain/Palin to go colonize Mars and hunt for Bigfoot in the Alaska wilds respectively, not letting them return until completed. If we want to do something positive, we should again and again repeat the message against the government and for the market until we make some headway. The libertarian message has stagnated because of the absolutely abstract way in which most people present it.