Elections are not videogames

There have been a rash of post-election withdrawal symptoms involving recently elected GOP governors, where we’re getting a barrage of opinion polls that are telling us things like this:

Only three months removed from Governor Rick Scott‘s (R) inauguration, a majority of Florida voters now say the state is headed in the wrong direction and that, if they could do it all over again, they wouldn’t have elected Scott in the first place, according to a new Suffolk University poll.

And this:

Two months into his first term, a new poll shows Wisconsin voters are unhappy with GOP Gov. Scott Walker–and would send him packing if they were given a do-over of the 2010 election that sent him to the statehouse in Madison.

And this:

Since signing a bill earlier this year to strip public unions of most of their collective bargaining rights, Ohio Gov. John Kasich‘s (R) approval rating has plummeted, bottoming out at a new low in a PPP poll released Wednesday. As if that weren’t bad enough, the poll also found Kasich losing a theoretical do-over election — by an enormous 25-point margin.

These polls are short-term revelatory and long-term meaningless. Are people in Florida and Minnesota and Ohio are pissed off because they didn’t pay attention to the issues in those campaigns?  Were they conned by the specter of forged presidential birth certificates, a secret Muslim intrusion in the White House and death panels discreetly hidden in a universal health plan? The voters went off in a Tea Party snit and voted in conservative Republicans who — surprise, surprise — are doing what conservative Republicans would obviously do.

So why are these voters whining now? The argument, “We never expected these guys to do what they stand for” doesn’t wash.

Elections aren’t like videogames. When you screw up, you can’t just hit a reset button and start over like nothing bad happened.

In a videogame your player goes into war and steps on a land mine, or drives a car at 200 miles an hour and smashes into a wall, or goes too far in a hop and ends up falling off a cliff. Then you get another life: You resume where you got killed and keep going until you use up all of your lives.

Elections are real life. In real life, when those things happen, you die. Game Over.

So after less than six months, the citizens of these fair states decide they made a mistake and want a do-over. When you elect a governor, you’re electing someone who’s going to be in office for four years. Every politician knows that when you have that kind of time, you ram your most controversial and distasteful programs down the public’s throat immediately, because voters have short attention spans. The traumas of the first six months are often forgotten when the next election season begins three and a half years later.

If voters don’t like what’s happening in their states, maybe it’s time they think about getting an attention span. Instead of them being distracted by shiny objects (Oh, this health care debate is too complicated and … ooh! Lindsay Lohan just got arrested again!) they need to examine the issues,  figure out what’s really in their best interests, cast their votes and deal with the consequences.

Stop acting like life is a game of Super Mario, already.

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