The PJ Tatler

Yelp Politics

Hanging out at one of my favorite burger joints a few nights ago, I was chatting with some of the wait staff, as they were getting ready to close.

The food and beers there are fantastic, so I was surprised to hear them complaining about their fairly bad Yelp reviews.

Yelp is a website that gives people the opportunity to review restaurants, and see what other people have said about an eatery’s service, food, cleanliness, etc.

These waiters and waitresses, who have become friends of mine, all said there were specific negative reviews written about them. And they were telling me that they had all received pressure from their managers about these lackluster online comments.

I attempted to be encouraging by reminding them of something I have discovered about reviewers and critics—the negative is always the most prevalent.

I believe it is a part of human nature that makes us want to make our voices heard when we perceive that somebody has wronged us. In other words, it is far more likely that I will complain about something than compliment it.

We see this on social media too. Facebook statuses like “Uch, waiting in line at the airport for 2 hours now; this sucks!” are way more common than the “What an awesome day I just had!” comments.

When something good happens, we generally just relish the fact that it was good and move on. But if we feel slighted, we will make a stink.

I assured my friends that this was a viable reason why they had been reviewed poorly. They may have had an off day, and someone felt that their service had not been up to snuff, so they critiqued it online. Whereas, the countless times these waiters have offered exemplary service goes unreported on Yelp.

As my mom says, “One ‘awww shoot’ ruins a thousand ‘atta-boys.’”

But there is a clear difference between a few bad reviews, and, let’s says, a health official’s condemnation. There are truly serious things a waiter might do wrong, that would need to be reported and punished. These types of complaints cannot be dismissed on the basis of negativity alone. Sometimes there are real things wrong.

We can apply this knowledge to the way politicians are perceived.

As the opposition party, it is easy for Republicans to get pegged as complainers. The ‘Party of No’ strategy has worked before. This argument alleges that the GOP Members are all stalwarts, acting as sticks in the mud against progress and anything the President might want to achieve.

I’m not going to lie, there is some of this. Sometimes political gamesmanship leads to politicians not wanting the other side to win, just because they don’t want them to have that victory. Indeed sometimes, either party (but most often the opposition) will hold up bills or get pet-projects earmarked, simply to not let the other Party win.

But, just as there are real valid concerns in the restaurant industry, juxtaposed against the flighty concerns of once having your water come without enough ice, there are real problems in politics.

President Obama’s administration has been rocked by some pretty major scandals. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting, NSA spying on citizens, drone surveillance, and the VA tragedies, are all big issues.

Let alone, Obama’s issues with transparency.

But the Administration’s defense against all of these has been to call them out as “phony scandals.” This is essentially the strategy that I encouraged the waiters to take—to point out to their managers that some people would always just be negative, and that their service was in fact good. In this case, the President’s managers are we, the American people.

He is essentially going before us, to explain his bad reviews as negativity on the part of his critics, and nothing more than that.

But, just as someone might notice a waiter dropping a piece of food on the floor and picking it back up to serve would be a real problem, so too are Obama’s troubles.

Negativity and game playing will only explain so much, and I think Obama has exceeded his limit on overlookable scandals. Obama’s Presidency is not full of phony Yelp reviews, but rather the metaphorical health official who needs to start correcting some behaviors.