Are American Politicians Listening?
There’s a great cell phone advertising campaign that was built around the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” Are American politicians listening to the voters? We look at the polls and they say that the American people are more interested in spending cuts than new and increased spending. What do we hear from Obama? Let’s spend $300-400-500 billion that we don’t have on new programs that we don’t need.
Here’s one good example: Obama says that we need to more money for infrastructure. Earth to Obama: the Energy Department’s infrastructure money that was in the original stimulus bill is still not spent. At least 1/3 of the department’s allocation is still looking for a home.
Obama said so himself: “Shovel ready wasn’t shovel-ready”. Infrastructure spending is a slow and time-consuming process with planning, approvals and sometimes court challenges. In central Virginia they’ve been arguing about a bypass for US 29 for almost 20 years! According to a recent Rasmussen poll 62% of those polled lack confidence that government will spend infrastructure money the right way.
In the face of the American people’s disapproval the politicians seem to press forward listening to no one but a voice in their heads. That voice is saying: “Spending taxpayers money is why we’re here”. As it becomes more apparent that the American people are terrified for the future of this country, many of the smarties in Washington are moving in a different direction.
Based on the hints that we are getting from the White House about tonight’s speech, no one there is listening or even reading the polls. Obama’s approval ratings are like a rocket going downhill. Gallup has him at 40% overall approval with a 50% disapproval. The NBC/WSJ poll has him at 44% overall approval but 37% approval of the economy.
Congress has even worse numbers. The Real Clear Politics poll, an average of polls, has them at an astounding 84% disapproval rating. Other major polls bear this out. Gridlock has its downside, particularly in the popularity area.
Polls aside, let’s understand that approval/disapproval are driven by both sides of the argument. As an example: those who disapprove of Obama’s or Congress’ handling of economy represents both sides of the equation: liberal and conservative. This proves my point that American politicians are tone-deaf?
Let’s take another issue: the terrorists who are incarcerated at Guantanamo. Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was captured on March 1, 2003. He was charged on February 11, 2008, with war crimes and murder by a U.S. military commission and faces the death penalty if convicted. On December 8, 2008 he and four co-defendants told a military judge that they desired to confess and plead guilty.
Since Obama became President nothing has happened other than a lot of arguing about a trial venue. First, Attorney General Eric Holder wanted the trial to take place in New York City. That was shot down in flames. Then they talked about other possible U.S. locations. Now, we’re back to a military trial at Guantanamo. In a November 2009 poll respondents voted 59% to 36% for a military trial. A CNN poll in the same time period found an even bigger margin for a military court: 64% to 34%. It took the Justice Department almost two years to grudgingly to come to the same conclusion.
There are many other examples of American politicians not listening to the American people. But here’s something that they should all listen to: voters do vote. In Election Day 2010 we saw a huge sea change in Congress. I expect that we’ll see an even bigger tsunami in November 2012.