Are you developing psychosis following Michigan's campaign for governor?
If you are following the campaign for governor you really aren’t normal. Yes, you heard me correctly. The media, me included, has been writing more and more about the campaign.
Not just for governor, but for the Senate and various other races. Today, the Detroit Free Press’s headline trumpets: “With vote just weeks away, Snyder builds lead.”
That’s written as if it were describing something tangible and real, like “new mountain discovered in Brazil.” In fact, that story is based on a poll the newspaper and a TV station paid for.
The data is based on a mere 600 people and shows 45% percent favored Rick Snyder; 39% percent favored Mark Schauer.
That’s pretty close to the margin of error.
Nevertheless, Bernie Porn, the man whose firm did the polling said authoritatively, “Snyder went up with his advertising campaign and it’s made a significant difference in the race.”
But, as if conscious that nobody likes a play whose ending is revealed in the first act, Porn added, “Even with Snyder’s lead, it is certainly not too late for Schauer to turn things around.”
In other words, it’s the Belmont Stakes and the horses are just coming into the backstretch. However, I have news for us political junkies. Far more people are like the server at the cheap restaurant where I had lunch yesterday.
When I asked him about the governor’s race, he said “Is that this year?” He also thought he was a registered voter, but wasn’t quite sure. Well, I don’t need Bernie Porn to tell me how that guy’s going to vote: He’s not. In fact, most registered voters aren’t going to vote.
I know that because fewer than half ever do in any election, other than for president.
To badly parody Casablanca, many people feel the fortunes of two rival 50-something guys from Battle Creek don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. They don’t think anything Schauer or Snyder can do will make much difference in their lives.
That might not be so bad if we all agreed that all was well in this very best of all possible worlds, except it’s not – and increasingly, we don’t really believe that our leaders can do much to fix things.
That wasn’t true, once upon a time. We thought the right set of leaders and the right set of laws could make the world a better place.
We’ve been disillusioned a lot since then, by politicians on the right and the left. The news media is also somewhat to blame.
Many reporters think they are covering the campaign. They aren’t. They are covering the polls and the television commercials, $20 million worth of which have aired so far. Most are about as informative as insults in a playground fight.
In any event, we have real and lingering problems in this state. I follow this stuff daily, and I don’t have a clue if either of these men can, say, get the roads fixed, or how they’d get the money.
Neither does anyone else, which is why so many have quietly concluded none of this is very relevant to them.
Which, if you believe in democracy, just may be the scariest infomercial of all.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.