Many years ago I was dating someone with whom I did not see eye to eye on the topic of movies. Her taste in that area, to be blunt, was very bad. She favored the chick flick romantic comedy aimed primarily at a female audience. After about a dozen terrible movies over the course of a year I was fairly upset. I felt like the choice of movies in relationships is a joint responsibility and the opposing party was letting down its end of the bargain. I decided it was time to send a message. "Look," I said, "I think it's only fair that I get to pick a movie for once."

With all the subtlety of an Oliver Stone film, I decided to make my point by picking the worst, most obviously ridiculous movie in theaters at the time. Which explains why I found myself in a theater watching Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. The point was made but I was not happy.

The problem was twofold. First, in my spiteful effort to make a point I gave Michael Bay $20 and indirectly encouraged him to continue making movies. I am not proud of that. Second, and more importantly, it's not as though I administered this punishment from a safe distance. I had to sit in that theater too. About 90 seconds into the movie my mood shifted rapidly from "Ha ha! Revenge is mine!" to "OK, now I have to sit through Pearl Harbor." It's like four fucking hours long.

Revenge is never as rewarding as we expect it to be. We do something out of anger and more often than not we end up punishing ourselves in the long run. This anecdote has been stuck in my head for the past few months as the results of the anger-driven 2010 elections have played out.

I understand exactly why voters would vote for people like Paul LePage, John Kasich, Scott Walker, and so on to run their states. I understand why they would send Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson to the Senate. It makes a very clear statement: "Screw you, Democrats. We're mad at you and we'll vote for just about anyone else to send a message." There is little doubt that this strategy works – losing 55 House seats, several Governors' mansions, and six Senators is enough to make any political party snap to attention.

The problem is, it took about 30 seconds to make the point. And now they have to live with these ass clowns for four more years.

Scott Walker might not last much longer than a year. Paul "What Maine really needs is lax child labor laws, or perhaps none" LePage. Ohioans, who spent the 00s wildly swinging back and forth between the GOP and Democrats, have enjoyed just three months into Kasichnomics yet it feels like three years. In LePage's defense, though, he has created employment opportunities for unskilled workers. By hiring his daughter as a $41,000 clerical worker.

I don't live in a state with tendencies toward either liberalism or introspection, but I have to imagine that there are some Wisconsinites, Ohioans, Mainers, and so on who are feeling a bit of buyer's remorse at the moment. Of course there are thousands of voters who are perfectly happy with the decision they made and the way their new elected officials have performed. At the same time, I imagine there are quite a few who voted angry and are just now figuring out what they've gotten themselves into. Too bad they're stuck in the theater for a couple more years.

53 thoughts on “BUYER'S REMORSE”

  • My only hope is that this peek back into the madness will let people understand exactly why it is they recoiled in the first place.

  • And now we see the weakness of the first-past-the-post, winner-take-all electoral system. It pretty much inevitably leads to a two-party dynamic; when one of those parties is broadly conservative (the Democrats) and one is run by lunatics (duh), the only option available to relatively conservative and sane party is Bedlam.

    Most people aren't going to remember just how batshit insane the GOP is; they just know that when they don't have good or secure or any jobs, they're voting for the people who aren't currently running the show. There's no incentive for the GOP to de-crazify itself, since the crazification isn't an impediment to electoral success.

    So, yeah. It was a nice society we had here.

  • For me the problem lies in our extended campaign time frame.

    Without getting into the fact that Senators are not working in the Senate while out on the campaign trail, the electorate can not remember (or will not remember) what happened (what was said) in the first half of the campaign!

    Also I feel like I am being seriously groped by the fact that Iowa has so much say in who is going to be chosen to represent my party.

  • As one who lives in Maine, I have to remind everyone who talks about buyers remorse with LePage that he was elected with only 38% of the vote, beating out the independent candidate Elliot Cutler by roughly 7500 votes . The Democrat candidate took 20%, which basically cost Cutler the election. I suspect there is little buyers remorse among the 38% who voted for LePage. 62% of the state never wanted him in the first place.

  • The serious campaign money is in the hands of deeply conservative people, any Democrat who gets sufficient funding to run is going to have policies and opinions that won't shut off the money tap, giving them the appearance of "DINO". No surprise some miss the subtle difference and vote for actual Republicans, maybe even aware of what's coming, they may even think"This is inevitable, why don't I just bend over now.". What's worse, the oligarchy has no actual destination, more like a vulture wishing for an everlasting carcass.

  • I largely blame the "principled non-voters" who voted for Shepard Fairey (sorry, Obama) in 2008 and got jaded with him, stayed home in 2010 and let the 'baggers pick the next feature. Wasn't '10 an exceptionally low turnout? No thanks to the Liberal Lamestream Media, which spent six months beforehand reminding everyone what a bloodbath it was destined to be.

  • God I hope we recall King Walker before he does any more damage. All of his policies are revenge based, same as those who voted him in were fixated on vengeance.

  • Monkey Business says:

    Every time I hear someone say that they gladly vote Republican, I always have to fight the urge to ask them why they hate America.

    I can understand being angry at the Democrats. God only knows I am. They're spineless and disorganized. They couldn't legislate their way out of a paper bag. That being said, I don't think they're evil; when I vote for a Democrat, I don't think that they're going to actively attempt to screw me and everyone I know.

    That being said, everything the Democrats aren't the GOP is. They have fucking balls and get shit done. I admire that. That being said, I just wish that I didn't disagree with literally every plank of their national, regional, state, county, city, and school district platforms. And not like "Well, I don't agree with that, but I can live with it." kind of disagree. I'm talking "I will fight you to the death to keep that from happening." kind of disagree. It's so bad, I genuinely wonder if these people hate America, as every policy they seek to introduce basically takes a big healthy dump on the Constitution. They're just evil.

    Finally, that brings us to Ed's point. Namely, that Voters Remorse is a real and powerful thing. The people voted Democrats in to office, because they believed that the Democrats would fix things after the GOP so royally fucked them up. Two years later, they vote those Democrats out because they couldn't fix in two years what the GOP had 14 to fuck up. So, what we're left with is a democratic President, who refuses to make Congress his bitch and seems intent on compromising with the GOP on everything, despite the fact that they have shown no desire to do so; a nominally Democratic Senate, whose rules have opened the door for a GOP insurgency to stall, stall, stall everything; and a GOP controlled House who have gifted us with such legislation as "Repeal the Job Killing Health Care Reform Act" Act.

    Basically, what I'm saying is that I'm hoping in this next election the people realize that only one of the political parties is working in even the general direction of their interest, and that the other one is basically fucking them in the ass. Given the nature of the American electorate though, I sincerely doubt that that will happen. More likely than not, the GOP will gain control of the Senate, and Obama's second term will be spent issuing the most Presidential vetos of all time. Get ready for the "Keep Democrats From Killing Babies" Act, the "Eliminate Taxes on the Top 1% of Wage Earners" Act, and "Make Christianity the official religion, English the official Language, rich the official social status, male the official gender, between the ages of 40 and 65 the official ages, and caucasian the official ethnicity of America" Act.

  • "Pearl Harbor"? That's what you get for malicious compliance, throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and cutting off your nose to spite your face. You should have given her a brilliant romantic comedy, such as "The Philadelphia Story," as a gateway drug. But I have more empathy for you than for the reaction voters who are living with (and sharing bank accounts with) the hookers they married at midnight in Vegas. Live it up, geniuses. Divorce court doesn't open for a long time.

  • I think you're wrong that there's any kind of large-scale buyer's remorse. Non-Republicans are unhappy, sure. They didn't want these guys. But the Republican voters are perfectly content with them, indeed happy. They wanted crazy, they got crazy, they're happy with crazy. It's all good.

    Seriously. Ask a Republican, "are you happy with [insert local Republican elected official]?" They'll tell you, "yes". There's no buyer's remorse.

  • Let's face it, we're fucked, unless some of the recalls actually recall some or all of these assholes. That would at least show them that they can't get away with screwing the people all the time, just some times. They only have to wait until July to start the recall of King Rick (the bean-counter geek) in Michigan.

    The problem in this country is there are no longer consequences for actions. If you are rich enough or powerful enough, nothing happens no matter what you do.

    I think we should impeach some of the Supremes that have contributed to this problem. There is more than enough cause to impeach several of the Supremes, yet nothing gets done about it.

  • I think that the democrats left in office got the wrong kind of message: they needed to move back to the right of center. Just as they did when the democrats and Obama were voted into office in 2008; Obama extended and expanded much of what Bush started.

  • I'm going to take a guess that the people who voted for these people specifically do no have buyer's remorse. What I mean is that voters who had a Walker sign posted in their yard isn't largely regretting their decision.

    However, I bet there is a large group of people who casually voted for these guys based on party affiliation who likely regret their decision. Someone who voted after hearing how much Obama is ruining America or how Republicans are coming back, without actually knowing any details or how it effects their lives could have buyer's remorse.

  • Ed,

    As an erstwhile academic turned copy editor, I have to say that I object to

    "ass clowns"

    and would strongly prefer the usage "assclowns" or, perhaps "ass-clowns," although the latter seems unnecessarily punctuated — even anachronistic; I am, after all, a good liberal, and therefore unnecessary punctuation doesn't bother me that much as long as we spread it around.

    Further, if you (as an historian) tend for some reason towards AP style, the usage without the hyphen is definitely preferable; MLA/Chicago would allow the hyphen if it's needed for clarity/disambiguation, but I'm not sure what purpose it'd serve in this scenario.


  • Oh, right:

    Also, too, if any fucking Dems at all had turned out in Texas, we could have gotten rid of Rick "Hair Flair" Perry, but nooooooooooo.

    I hope those lazy assclowns [sic] choke on a bag of shit. Now we're not going to have schools at all.

  • johnsmith1882 says:

    Just have to point out that Mark Kirk was not elected because of a huge teabag wave in Illinois, but because his opponent, Alexi Guinnulias, was an extremely weak and not very likeable candidate. Even so, Guinnulias closed a large gap and only lost along the lines of 49%-51%. If the Democrat machine had chosen even a half-ass worthy candidate, Illinois would still have two Democrat senators.

    Other than that, yeah, spot on. I would like to say, "haha, you reap what you sow, dummies," but another problem with buyer's remorse is that those of us who didn't buy live with the consequences, too.

    I bet that old girlfriend _loved_ Pearl Harbor. It's the chick-flickiest "action" movie ever crapped out on the big screen. Double whammy.

  • I actually enjoyed "Pearl Harbor" the first time I saw it–but then, I do have a penchant for certain movies that are so bad they're good. What did your date say about it? That would have been really ironic, if she liked it after you went to all the trouble to try to pick out one she'd hate.

    I suspect many of the current neocons will one day have their buyer's remorse when they wake up and realize that their situations aren't improving and are, in fact, getting worse, but it may take a decade or two.

  • My father watches Glenn Beck for news and is fervently anti-union, anti-teacher, etc. but works for the government and has for the past 27ish years. Here is a recent conversation:

    Dad (works for the State of Maine DOT): They might be forcing me into early retirement.

    Me: Are you guys ready for that?

    Dad: Well, whether we are or not the system is broken and we all have to do our part to fix it.

    Me: What do you mean?

    Dad: Government is too big and spends too much money. We have to cut back. If that means I have to retire early, I'll do what I have to for my state and country.

    These people believe this crap. They don't have buyers' remorse. They truly wanted this situation. And I am terrified that my parents will be in great danger should it come to pass. And they have no idea that they are being taken for a ride. And lord knows that we are not in a position to take them in should they go under. *sigh*

  • displaced Capitalist says:


    A constant theme in Ayn Rand's Altas Shrugged was that the "looters" would force everyone to abandon technology and we'd be using candles instead of electric bulbs.

    I can see you father in the future: "Lord Beck tells us that we need to cut back on our tallow use. Oh well, I was enjoying using candles, but I guess this stick with pitch on it will have to do tonight."

    Assuming he lives that long without a job or SS or medicare.

  • anotherbozo says:

    Ed: another great, provocative post. The only thing is, "Pearl Harbor" didn't have the same cast as the chick flicks, the same producer, director or studio. Reese Witherspoon wasn't commanding the Pacific Fleet. I guess your theory of revenge makes sense, but you'd have to add quite a dollop of idiocy to vote in the same crowd that gave you Dubya and, to start the festivities, St. Ronnie.

    Ed, you are needed, at least in my mental life, now more than ever. Frank Rich and Bob Herbert are suddenly gone from the NY Times (why? cost-cutting alone? coincidence?) and there are fewer and fewer perceptive–and trenchant!–analysts out there. Or anywhere. Underline trenchant.

  • anotherbozo says:

    Ignore my specious argument. Doncha hate false parallelism, badly extended metaphors? I promise to get more sleep.

  • @displaced Capitalist,

    I was hyperbolizing, but we're facing rather draconian cuts to public education as a result of Republican governance and a refusal to consider a state income tax — oh, I mean: the economic crisis.

  • State Gov's wining/losing % Voter turn out % deciding

    FLA 49.6/47.7 42.2 20.9
    MI 58.1/39.9 44.3 24.7
    OH 49.4/46.7 44.6 23.1
    WI 52.3/46.6 51.7 27.0

    Look what percent of eligible voters chose these clowns. Those are fucking tea party numbers. They will have no remorse. The problem was people not giving a shit enough to show, up. Except here in MI where we selected a known job-exporting CEO/Venture capitalist over a Mayor with a proven record of job creation, by a fucking landslide.

    I voted, but it did no good.


  • Monkey Business says:

    That's what I don't get. 20-30% turnout. What the fuck are 70% of the American people doing that they literally can't show up?

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    @Monkey Business

    Dancing with the Stars of course. (Or American Idol, or Snooki.) Whatever.

  • Yes, Democratic (as well as overall) turnout for the state election in Texas was fucking pathetic. If even a fraction of Dems had turned out — like I said — we could have had the TX gov go D, which would have been symbolically awesome in a symbolical-ridden election (viz. TeaParty gains and insane midwestern govs).

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    In regards to the voter turnout: what role does the recent war on voter "fraud" play? I've had many conversations with nitwits convinced Democrats vote twice or three times so we should all be required to show our IDs and anyone who doesn't have an ID doesn't matter. More broadly, I think it ought to be easier to vote on an election day. More store closures, more ads on tv saying "get your but off the couch and vote," and more processes to make it easier to vote rather than more difficult to vote.

  • The Man, The Myth:

    I am looking straight at you with no dialect (per Lib by Grace) so I'm not trolling.

    Why do Liberals (IYO) get so exercised about requiring voter ID? In GA we have a voter ID that has been upheld so far in the appellate system.

    Our law provides for election officials to freaking come to you (if you are poor/disabled/etc.) to provide you w/ a picture ID.

    Why all the blowback from libs on this subject? I can hardly do any other kind of transaction without a pic ID. Why shouldn't something important as voting receive the same level of scrutiny as cashing a check?


  • OK bb, I'll put this one back in your court.

    Since you profess to be neither Democrat nor Republican, why do you suppose the Republicans want this soooo badly?

    Do you really think that they're that concerned about the integrity of the vote? Having voted in Ohio in 2004 it's going to take an awful lot to convince me of that.

    Or do you suppose that maybe, just maybe, there might be some other motivation here?

  • Major:

    Yeah, the bogus (IMO) reason I have heard is that Repuglicans want to deprive poor and otherwise disadvantaged people the right to vote by requiring proof they are who they say they are.

    Oh, another reason, it might discourage people who are here illegally from attempting to vote. It is suggested that such people may also be overwhelmingly Democrat in their outlook.

    But I don't think proving who you say you are (especially with the State election officials, at least here, providing the ID at no direct cost to you) is a burden.

    If that is a coincidence (in the geometric sense) between doing right and political advantage for the Rs, so be it.

    Are Ds sincere about this or are they just pouty because 'doing the right thing' is not to their advantage on this one?


  • And Maine's LePage took down labor murals over the weekend, when there wouldn't be any protestors to notice. What a chickenshit.

    I heard he was elected with just 38% of the vote in a field of 5 candidates. I don't know if that's true, but good grief. What a mess.

  • I'm w/ a on this about the election cycle. What used to get up my nose w US politics was there being an election every 2 years. No sooner had the smoke cleared and Govt could get on with things than we had another year of pollies slagging each other. I'd say many voters are just over it. So perhaps that should be addressed and overhauled.

    Another probably has something to do with timing. *Tuesday*? WT… were they thinking with that? I wouldn't be surprised if one did a demograph we'd find the majority of voters are retirees or unemployed TP. Everyone else were trying to work one of their 3 well paid service industry jobs. I'm sure their constitutionally and civic minded employers were pleading w them to go do their civic duty and vote. They probably were even offered cash bonuses to make up for the wages they would've lost to vote.

    Aus elections are held on Saturdays and if one is registered to vote then it's compulsory. Failure to do so results in a fine and at the state level suspension of one's license for not paying the fine.

  • @bb

    It's simple math. Low voter turnout elections tend to favor Republicans and high voter turnout tends to favor Democrats.

    Therefore, it's in the interests of Republicans to try to make it harder to vote and thus keep turnout low. Especially in more, ahem, "urban" districts.

    I don't think it's personal – it's just business.

    Unless you can prove that there is a serious problem with illegal immigrants voting I'm going to put that in the same straw-man category as Sharia law.

  • bb, I admit: I didn't know there were places where you could vote without presenting ID. I've always had to identify myself, and I always thought it was a good idea. But I don't know that the people who would not be able to vote (presumably indigent, possibly immigrants, either too poor to pay for ID or too busy doing menial labor to stand in line at the DMV) can be presumed to vote for Dems. The many I met in Phoenix were deeply religious, and voted R every time — anti-choice, anti-gay, and pro-military (that being a common job for their sons.)

    I just wish there was a way to educate kids about the process from an early age, and get more people voting. Depressingly, I have known many girls (hate to call them women) who have told me they don't really think about the issues ("it's too depressing") and they just vote the way their fathers or husbands do. This makes me pull out my hair by the handful. Our country has big problems.

  • The Man, The Myth says:

    @bb. Perhaps the ID issue is simply a example of the larger trend towards restricting access to the polls. You are likely correct in pointing out getting ID and showing it is not overly onerous.

    The real point we should take away from this discussion is that our election cycle is too long & too expensive, leaving too many people feeling cynical and jaded. We have convinced huge numbers of people voting doesn't matter because regardless of who they vote for, things just get worse. I typically don't turn on the news shows – but today I watched one program that highlighted last weekends Iowa values show. Michelle Bachman was shown in a clip saying something like: "America is the only Country in the world with this system, so its obligatory for us to never change and keep our unique system…" (perhaps slightly misquoted). On this point I can't possibly agree with Representative Bachman. To me when everyone else in a room is doing one thing and I'm doing something else, I take some time to determine what I can learn from other people.

  • I can certainly think of times when a "screw you, let's give the other guys a shot" seems to have been in play, but I'm also concerned that many politicians neglect the whole "why should anyone vote for me" angle.

    I'm certainly not suggesting that many voters couldn't do a much better job of due dilligence on their end, but there seem to be an eerie number of Democrats who just sort of take voter support for granted. Maybe some of decide it looked like more fun from the outside, or just assume that the general populace follows politics far more closely than they do, but after the 2008 elections it seemed obvious the Dems needed to hit the ground running, but instead just sort of hit the ground. I know that the GOP has done everything possible to ensure nothing happens, but I'm still kind of creeped out that there seemed to be an air of surprise when they went into full obstruction mode after the 2008 elections.

    If the Dems couldn't actually deliver the goods, they needed to at least make a credible display of what they were up to and why, and it seems like the notion that the press isn't going to particularly go out of its way to help with that project still hasn't sunk in. Maybe I'm just dim, but this post-partisanship business just seems like a fool's paradise to me, and I can't even imagine how one is supposed to forge some grand bargain with "partners" who on an almost daily basis make it clear that any deals made are only as binding and lasting as it suits them to be.

    I completely understand the damage-control argument, but that doesn't seem to really get the warm bodies in polling booths. Considering how many of the blue dogs got nailed, I'd assume that flirting with the GOP positions on things like healthcare didn't go over so well, but that doesn't seem to be the lesson they drew from the experience. It just seems that having reasons to vote for someone as useful as reasons to vote against someone else, and unfortunately, it seems like the GOP is pretty good at giving it's base reasons to turn up – fanciful, batshit-insane reasons – but reasons that enough voters seem to take seriously enough to be a reliable force in recent elections.

  • The people who actually turned out to vote and elected these idiots are quite happy with their choices. They're 23%ers who support idiots like this no matter what. The good news is that these people start dying in large numbers pretty soon.

    I would expect a significant, if less inspired, bit of course correction in 2010.

  • Clevelandchick says:

    I'm sick to my stomach what's happening here in OH. Kasich is intent on privatizing all of our state assets (prisons, our turnpike, our parks to allow drilling) and even created his own "non-profit" (LOL) JobsOhio (ROFLMAO) to take over the liquor control agency to siphon off profits that normally went to pay for services. Then naturally appointed himself chairman of this "non-profit". Oh…and he's also destroying our public unions.

    After he lost by a narrow margin Strickland publicly castigated the Democratic party in a speech, in essence he said Democrats have to stop acting like Republicans and you know who he was talking to…Obama and the Senate. He was right.

    Don't blame the voters. Blame the Democrats and Obama. They wasted their HUGE bank of political capital from 2008 and their super majority. They allowed 8 corporate whore Blue Dogs in the Senate to drag the whole party down.

    Obama did nothing for his first two years but kick liberals under the bus, cater to Wall Street and kiss Mitch McConnell's ring. He's done NOTHING about the banksters. Why aren't those bastards in jail instead of collecting billion dollar bonuses? Why are the banks sitting on trillions while Americans are being kicked out of their homes by the millions? Why did the wealthy get a huge tax cut that deepened our deficit creating the "need" to cut services and social programs for struggling citizens?

    The party that motivates more voters to the polls is the one who wins and the Democrats have to stop using "We Suck Less" and "Republicans Are Big Meanies" as their campaign strategy.

    And you know what I keep hearing from the Ohio Dem Party even now? You guessed it. They're not out there fighting. They're not launching a ballot initiative to pass a law allowing us to recall Kasich or the GOP reps voting against their constituents' interests like the WI Dems are doing.

    Nope, I just keep getting fundraising e-mails telling me to donate to them because they suck less. Pffft. I'd rather save my money so I can move the hell out of here.

  • Listen, Chuckles, LePage won with 38% of the vote. That means 62% of us had buyer's remorse the day after the election.

  • remorsing the buyers says:

    Media Reform
    The media HAS to be freed of corporate control and propaganda.

    Corporations are not people and should not be seen as a person.

    Common everyday noncorrupted people who care about PEOPLE need to run for political offices of all types.

    The netroots of the left need to organize around a common theme and core social democratic ideas and values, that the matters of real people come first and foremost.
    Currently the netroots are a big tent hodge podge of ideas and values which lack a bigger picture focus and ability to get a uniformed message out.

    The left lacks a counter to the corporate/conservative think tanks, braintrusts, and deep pockets.
    If the netroots were to focus they could be that counter.
    There are hundreds of thousans if not millions of willing and active participants in the blogosphere, from blog owners to readers.
    There is a huge talent pool to be tapped here!
    Scores of these people would be easily persuaded into making cash donations to a cause that they knew represented their interest.
    The third party is the net roots.
    It's a beast in waiting.

    10mil/10/12/10 plan.

    10 million people donate $10 each for 12 months for ten years.
    Each year a total of $1.2 bil is created.
    The $$$ is invested and only the interest used to fund liberal ideas.
    The left over a 10 year period creates 10 billionaires.
    Since billionaires seem to politically get what they want the left will have to collectively create them.

  • Unfortunately, like your girlfriend, those of us who didn't vote for Walker and begged our friends not to do it, are stuck in the fucking theatre watching Pearl Harbor also. God, the humanity.

  • @Major Kong

    "Unless you can prove that there is a serious problem with illegal immigrants voting I'm going to put that in the same straw-man category as Sharia law."

    I used indefinite words like "might discourage" and "may be Democrat" when talking about the illegal immigrants and the voter ID.

    How about this from the Hill?

    "Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, told the panel that his department’s study identified nearly 12,000 people who were not citizens but were still registered to vote in Colorado.

    Of those non-citizen registered voters, nearly 5,000 took part in the 2010 general election…"

    Does the R near his name make him an auto-liar?


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