From this trip, and from looking at things over the last six months, I am beginning to get the feeling that voters are shrugging their shoulders about politicians, no longer believing they can fix the economic problems. They’ve reset their expectations about how political leaders can change the dynamic. After watching basically no growth in real wages over the last decade, no real growth in private sector jobs and a stagnant unemployment rate, they don’t think that a president (or a governor, for that matter) can do much to change the situation.
They also feel that politicians making typical promises about how they are going to fix things are not realistic or to be trusted. The public seems increasingly to want to be told the truth and what to really expect. They don’t want to be sold some happy story with slogans and talking points, but instead given a real sense of where we are and what our future looks like. It seems that voters want to be included in the conversation, and asked to be part of the solution. And they think the leadership solution is a much more local one in their communities and neighborhoods.
This “reset” on the country’s economic and leadership outlook of what might be a new normal could actually benefit Obama to a small degree. If Romney tries to make too many grand promises about what he will do as president, he could be viewed as untrustworthy and a typical politician.