Voter Anger, Disappointment and Frustation

Photo Courtesy:

Hilbert Morales


I attended the annual meeting sponsored by Supervisor Joe Simitian, District 5, Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara this past Sunday, at the Lucy Stern Community Center, Palo Alto, CA. The theme was “ANGER AND ANXIOUS-THE VOTER REVOLT OF 2016; Where did it come from? What does it mean? And will it last?”.

The panelists were The Honorable Libby Schaaf, Mayor, Oakland; Dan Schnur, Director, Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics, U.S.C., and David Metz, Partner, FM3 Opinion Research. A standing room only crowd attended. The introduction of elected officials and candidates took some time to accomplish. Carl Guardino, President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group personally was distributing small jars of ‘Support Measure B’ cinnamon flavored apple jam. Supervisor Simitian presided as moderator.

Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf said that the voter outrage was selective. Since 2008, the U.S. Congress and state legislatures have been ineffective. The legislative process at both the federal and state levels had not taken care of the nation’s business (really ‘the people’s business’). So many public policy and infrastructural matters were now being taken care of by local government jurisdictions. An example was Measure B dealing with local transportation issues. The basic practice is to not show up at Washington or Sacramento unless you brought along ‘lots of matching funds’. Libby said, “I believe in America’s Democracy. The Republican Party is handcuffed by its Tea Party conservatives; lobbyists have too much money; and the legislative process at the federal level is gridlocked by extreme partisan politics. The public is anxiously dealing with income disparities while costs of goods or services continues to increase. The only bright spot is the current low cost of gasoline.”

Simitian said, “The ‘Yes on Measure B’ effort was necessary to leverage federal funding. It took local action to get things moving. Frightened people look to blame others.”

David Metz stated, “Since the Reagan Administration (1975), the ‘Mean Network’ only rewards its own. Reagan said, ‘Someone who disagrees with me 80% of the time is my enemy; Someone who agrees with me is my supporter.’ The result is that public policy issues were not debated in a ‘pro & con’ manner which led to understanding and compromise required to craft legislation. Only 4% listen to National Public Radio (NPR) and Rush Limbaugh to hear both perspectives. Some 92% are not listening at all to either the liberal or conservative perspectives. Many do not know enough to think about public policy issues. Conversations between individuals having opposing viewpoints is not happening.”

Joe Simitian stated, “There is a need to have civil conversations between parties having opposing viewpoints and ideas (liberal and conservative). The result is voters who are both angry and anxious. What the hell happened? And what is going to happen?”

Metz: “45% of voters are angry; 10% frustrated and 9% are pleased today. The most angry are the millennials and wealthy. It is not about ideology; it is generational. Current political climate is a reflection of society’s state of mind.”

Dan Schnur said, “What is going on in society is that millennials experienced the 2008 financial crash. Millennials experienced an industrial manufacturing economy transformed into an information technology based economy. One candidate identified with them and said ‘Only I know how to fix that.’ Millennials have been told they are special and they believed it. Since 2008 both Bernie Sanders and Donald J. Trump connected with millennials who are anti-establishment. This coming November 9th is very important because then we will know if we can put this nation together again.”

What should we be doing to cope? asked Joe Simitian. “Changes are happening so fast that it outstrips the ability of government to deal with its impact on all of us. Our kids will face a future with fewer opportunities. My kids will be worse off than me! We must become aware that we are all in this together.”

What was not discussed was current reality: The top 0.1%, as an outcome of their power, money and influence, have ended up with most of the wealth. Wealth is not being distributed to those who would use it to maintain the domestic economy’s infrastructures and the payments for essential goods and services. The past systems offered opportunity to earn a living; today it takes two or more part-time jobs with no health care or retirement benefits. The ultra-wealthy do not realize that these consumers who live from paycheck to paycheck are essential to having the American Consumer economy function well. When the working class have no discretionary income, no ‘consumer choices’ about education, housing, starting families, etc. are made. Most importantly, they do not have time to be engaged in local, state and federal governance. Without their ‘monitoring involvement’ Democracy fails to equitably distribute all sorts of goods, services, access and opportunity. If that does not change, a citizen’s voter revolt is inevitable. Today the top 0.1% are unaware that the ‘American Consumer Economy’ is on the brink of collapse because most individuals no longer believe in the “American Dream”…which is why voters are angry, disappointed and frustrated.