Since the 2008 election, I have found myself increasingly disinclined to comment on national politics. Perhaps this is a function of my being a white male — like my demographic peers in the Tea Party, I need anger to get me interested in politics, but my anger points in the other direction. Disappointment doesn’t make for the same fiery rhetoric, and what’s more, I’m retrospectively embarrassed by the degree to which I got caught up in the blogospheric illusion that commenting publicly on politics was a significant political act.
Since I’m posting, though, I want to draw a point out that very few pundits will likely make. The lesson of this election is simple: all things being equal, voters are overwhelmingly concerned with the economy and expect government to manage it well. Many people of course believe that the government manages best by managing least, but still, they are primarily concerned with the government’s role in the economy in their electoral choices.
Short-term crises may temporarily change this calculation, but in the long run, legitimacy and authority in a modern democracy stems from economic management — “economy” is the central category of our political reality and must form the starting point of all critical reflection on our political situation and prospects.