It's funny how I have this last year balked at being involved at all in politics because it seemed too overwhelming for me... And yet now I realize it was actually a hidden feeling inside that silently told me -- "It's okay, things will work themselves out, people are not that stupid." No, no, no, no, now I understand completely -- people ARE that stupid... I felt like 'the people' somewhat redeemed themselves by electing Obama and democrats in congress, but now I realize that it really just came down to a 'which candidate made them feel good' election, just as in Massachusetts, just as with every single damn election in the country.
I understand this reaction very much, I would be lying if I denied I ever feel exactly what "Jackie" is saying here. But there are a few things we might to pause to consider when we feel this way.
First, we're people, so this implies we're stupid, too. I'm certainly willing to concede this point, at least to a point, you know, with caveats (especially if "stupid" is functioning as a sort of shorthand for the sorts of predictably irrational thinking some "behavioral economists" are starting to take as seriously again as Keynes did). Typically, this is the sort of claim from which we tend incorrectly to exclude ourselves in the making of it, in a way that blunts its actual usefulness, such as it is.
Second, polling has demonstrated time after time, for decades on end, on issue after issue after issue, that majorities of American citizens (people, all) are far more progressive on actual policy questions and social and cultural issues than are their so-called representatives (whether Republican or Democrat). To the extent that the attribution of stupidity to them is premised on their political backwardness and ignorance, at least in some key areas it is important to remember that it is not the people but the self-appointed "gatekeepers" and "elites" who dictate to them and pretend to represent them who seem laggard (and inevitably braggart).
Third, corporate media functions more or less as an ongoing misinformation campaign and also Republicans are forever gaming the system to mislead and disenfranchise majorities -- which doesn't make people so much stupid as they are manipulable.
Fourth, I think it matters most of all that Congress is full of millionaires representing millions of non-millionaires, and also that America more generally is full of privileged people who have been insulated by their privilege from the actual consequences of their actions. Again, "stupidity" might not be the best shorthand for grasping the structural relations between such privileges and the stupid things people have hitherto gotten away with doing because of them.
But of course it's easy to see why that is a word that is ready to hand. Believe me, I see the appeal. I don't want to leave the impression that I am criticizing "Jackie" for saying this, so much as empathizing and hoping to provide a context from which to find hope in the midst of evident and reasonable frustration. I've only excerpted part of "Jackie's" comment, which went on to say that progressives have hard work to do for which neither wishful thinking nor demoralization are any use, a sentiment with which I heartily agree.