In 2008, Arkansas voted for John McCain for President. In fact, the state voted more Republican than all other states. It swung 11% to the Right from the Bush vote in 2004. That's what the figures show.
Hillary ran and lost a savage and divisive campaign against Obama. Her home-state voters were particularly vocal and aggressive and really wanted her to win. They were crushed when she lost and sour and embittered. They lost their fervor to change America for the better and became resentful and lethargic and stayed away from the final days of the election. Many of them didn't vote. Arkansas Democratic votes in the 2008 election were down in numbers that didn't go to the Republicans... they just didn't vote.
In both cases, Republicans and Democrats voted against their own best interests. Literally, their wrong-headed votes (or lack of votes) were self-punishment and self-destructive to themselves. Voting for Palin when really they just didn't want to vote for a Democrat; not voting for Obama when he was clearly the only choice.
That manipulation through fear and anger is happening right now. Republicans and others are translating their frustration with the lack of progress in getting jobs, solving problems, regulating the banking industry, and putting the guilty in jail and they are making Obama and his administration the scapegoat.
In a Washington Post article today by Perry Bacon Jr., Drew Westen said that Democrats should not talk about "the environment," "the unemployed" or "the uninsured." Instead, they should replace those phrases with ones that have more appeal to voters, such as "the air we breathe and the water we drink," "people who've lost their jobs" and "people who used to have insurance."
"There are a few things if you know about the brain, they change the way you think about politics," he said in an e-mail. "If you understand we evolved the capacity to feel long before we evolved the capacity to think, instead of barraging people with facts (the standard Democratic way of talking to voters) you speak to people's core values and concerns."Westen also said in the e-mail that "the White House has sharpened its message substantially since the president's first year in office," although he thinks it could still be more blunt in illustrating differences between the two parties.
Transparency is one of the answers to this problem. Clarity, honesty, feeling and transparency.
Let's hope that President Obama can speak about this problem. There's no reason that clarity and transparency be limited to John Stewart and Bill Maher.