Reviewing the recent polling data from Rasmussen on their website, the unease of the American people is pretty clear. The numbers are staggering. President Obama, who once had rock star numbers, is now below 50 percent in approval ratings. Congress is below 30 percent. Indeed, 51 percent think that Congress is too liberal and 74 percent of Republican voters are not happy with Republican members of Congress. Around 57 percent of those polled wanted to replace the entire Congress with someone else. What is really striking is that 42 percent of those polled believe that picking members of Congress randomly from the phone book would produce a better Congress than the one in place.
Such numbers, while shocking in some ways, are expected in others. For nearly three years now, under three different Congresses and two Presidents, roughly two thirds of the nation believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. The numbers also reflect the frustration showed by Americans recently at Congressional town hall style meetings, on the right and the left.
Americans have always been cynical about their politicians and lampooned them when they could. That cynicism and lampooning has proven to be historically healthy to the American democracy. However, it is turning into something stronger and more difficult to define as more and more people notice and feel a disconnection between Washington and them. There is a growing mood, among liberals, conservatives and moderates, that their voices are limited and that the folks with the money and political clout to influence politics call the shots completely.
On the left, big labor unions influence bailouts and cash for clunkers for the labor union heavy automobile industry. On the right, insurance companies lobby to make sure any sort of health care reform is profitable for them. In the center of it all is a President who promised big ideas, but not seems to leave the heavy lifting to others on major issues, and instead concentrates on things like “beer summits” and speeches to school kids.
For years now, most Americans have seen content to just work and live their lives, with the comforts of their ball games and gadgets. However, as more and more Americans find that their insurance companies fight them on every health care claim, that their kids might be encouraged to voice how they can support some politician, that their Congressman, of whatever party, has staffers who check the fundraising lists before moving to solve a problem, that their son, brother or nephew goes to fight in some nation building exercise, that their credit card raises their interest just because Congress lets them, that there local government wastes hundreds of thousands on going after one another, that their Governor flies in a state plane to make his haircut appointment, and that their President surrounds himself with people who look down on average people, and well, the discontent is unavoidable.
The United States faces a great crisis of conscious. The numbers are what they are, and they are not manufactured by either side of the political debate. As stated, there is real discontentment with both sides. Democrats are unhappy with Democrats and Republicans are unhappy with Republicans.
What will solve this crisis is not great political consulting from highly paid political insiders, but a commitment to public honor from both elected leaders and the American people. Our elected leaders must be men and women who place serving the public good above their own. They must go back to being public servants. As for the people, we have a duty to punish those who practice the soap opera that passes as politics today and judge political leaders on what they do for the public, not what they do in private or how good looking or not that they are to some of us.
Think on it, in today’s climate, some of the giants who built this country, even saved this country would not have been elected. George Washington, a quiet man with false teeth would have no chance. John Adams, short and fat with little charisma, again would have no chance. Thomas Jefferson, a brilliant man, with a weakness for his black servant, would have been hounded out of office by the blogs. A tall and ugly man from the back country of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln would not even receive the Republican nomination today. John C. Calhoun would find his birth status questioned. Teddy Roosevelt would have ran out of town by lobbyists. Franklin Roosevelt would have been tossed aside due to his wheel chair and his fondness for a woman not his wife. Dwight Eisenhower would have been removed from command over blog attacks about him and his driver, Kay Summersby. U.S. Grant, well, blogs and 24 hour cable news reports about his drinking would have surely ran him out. The list goes on.
It is humbling when one considers it. We in America are really upset about the state of our government, with real reason. However, we put that government in place with our votes. We did so by voting for reasons that would seem foreign to the people who worked to build the nation. Thus, some of that anger we feel should be rechanneled into changing how we judge political candidates and how we make decisions at the polls. We as a people must get back to selecting smart people who want to serve instead of hip people who have the looks, the money behind them and the lobbyists. Every two years, we the people vote under the influence of television, highly paid consultants, lobbyists, anything it seems but our own interests, and then we get upset at what results. It is time we politically sobered up.