As reported by Joey Garrison of The City Paper, according to a recent MTSU-conducted poll President Barack Obama’s job approval rating reached a new all-time low in Tennessee, slipping to 30 percent, while his disapproval rating spiked to 63 percent.
A startling 89 percent of Tennesseans who identify themselves as Republicans disapprove of Obama’s job performance.
The three leading — or, more accurately, currently leading — Republican presidential candidates hold commanding margins over Obama in a hypothetical head-to-head election. Mitt Romney leads 44 to 29 percent; Rick Perry, 41 to 28 percent; Herman Cain, 39 to 28 percent.
As the poll concludes: “At this point Obama’s campaign faces an uphill struggle against any seemingly plausible Republican challenger if the president is to win the state of Tennessee in 2012.”
The numbers seem to tell a troubling story.
First, as the words “seemingly plausible” indicate, it doesn’t really matter who the Republicans end up nominating. If some “Joe the Plumber” or “Moe the Mechanic” with no political experience ran against Obama, he would probably win Tennessee in a landslide.
Second, it seems obvious that bigotry remains an issue. Obama is certainly no more liberal than the Kennedys, and is reasonably close to Bill and Hillary Clinton in his overall worldview. And he’s more of a hawk than a dove, as evidenced by increased CIA drone attacks across the border of Pakistan (shades of Laos and Cambodia), the “taking out” of Osama bin Laden, and the military intervention in Libya.
Most Tennesseans don’t accuse the Kennedys and Clintons of being un-American. So why is Obama being called a “foreigner,” a “totalitarian socialist” and all sorts of other untrue things? It seems likely that many Tennesseans and other Americans are deeply offended by having a highly intelligent, well-educated black president with an unusual-sounding name.
Third, it seems the majority of Tennesseans would rather vote against their own best interests, than see Obama get re-elected. But isn’t that like cutting off their noses to spite their faces? If they ever chose to examine themselves in the mirror honestly and objectively, they would realize that they — like the vast majority of Americans — will need Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid one day.
Only a very few Americans make enough money and save enough money to live comfortably when they retire. The rest of us will need what Republicans speak of dismissively and angrily as “entitlements.” And of course we paid for them throughout our entire working careers, in good faith, expecting to be able to count on them later in life.
In any case, the battle lines have been clearly drawn. Republican politicians are the lackeys of the super-rich 1 percent, and will slash “entitlements” to the bone, rather than ending tax cuts for their well-heeled (and often heel-ish) patrons and benefactors.
Democrats are lobbying for a much fairer, more balanced approach. But it seems Republicans may have the winning game plan: use bald lies to stir up irrational fears, then ride the resulting tide of ignorance to “victory.”
But a victory for Republicans may well be the defeat of the elderly, the sick, the poor and the unemployed, not to mention the silent majority of Americans — the working class.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.