Election 2010: Governed by the angry … the fickle?


Is this government by the angry?

I have a new theory about elections:The winner is the one with, well, the most pissed-off voters. On Tuesday, the angriest voters were those who supported Republican candidates. Think Tea Party. That’s one angry group of voters. Time will tell how much of a role the Tea Party really played. But we do know that enraged voters came out in droves and they voted for Republicans.

Another theory is that people are fickle, switching back and forth faster than a horse’s tail. This would mean that large numbers of voters changed their minds in two years time, voting for Democrats in 2008 and Republicans this time. Some did. But many didn’t. It’s just that different people showed up at the polls in 2010 compared to 2008.

2010: The Year of the Angry Voter

“What we had this year was a higher turnout of Republican voters, and a higher turnout of the angry independents,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas in an interview. “In 2006, there was more intensity among Democrats, and the independents were pointing their anger toward Republicans.”

Anger motivates. It gets people to the polls, where they can vent their anger by exercising their rights as citizens. The problem with anger, however, is that it doesn’t lead to solutions. Anger is a kind of negative emotion. Negative emotions narrow attention to just two actions: fight or flight. Fear motivates flight. Anger motivates fight. But only positive emotions—like inspiration or joy—open up our minds to consider creative and new solutions to problems.

Our new Congress rode a wave of anger to Washington. Their angry supporters fought hard. 

What next? Government by the angry doesn’t lead to anything creative. Just more fighting.

Will anger now run our government? What do you think?

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