I might have thought instead that “the president was elected to bring” bipartisanship to Washington — that is, if I’d bothered to listen to the stump speech Obama gave at every campaign stop, in which he emphasized that he would “bring the country together to solve problems,” and said things like, “I don’t want to pit Blue America against Red America, I want to lead a United States of America.” I might even be accusing him of lying, or at the very least hypocrisy, right about now.
I might also be one of the 60-plus percent of Americans who disapprove of the job Congress is doing. I might even disapprove so strongly that I would have exhibited a little anger at my representative if I had happened to attend one of those town hall meetings. Or I might empathize with those who did, and even resent the Obama administration for characterizing them as astroturfers with “manufactured anger.”
In addition, I might have listened in on, or been part of, some of those “thoughtful discussions taking place around kitchen tables, water coolers and in homes” about the subject of health care reform. If so, I might have noticed that these discussions are hardly devoid of expressions of heated emotion and even anger, perhaps of the same type exhibited by the supposed astroturfers at those town hall meetings. And this despite the fact that I would be sophisticated enough to understand that of course some of those people attending the town halls probably are paid operatives, just as the DNC and the White House says. But the sentiment they express is very real, and the grassroots anxiety about health care reform is broad and deep.
I might realize that this is because the issue of health care reform presses the hot and hair-trigger buttons of personal involvement for most people, and is one that threatens to change their relationship with their doctors in an area of great intimacy and even fear — that of illness.
And I might also have observed that when in the not-so-distant past Democrats disagreed with George W. Bush on various issues, they did not always observe the niceties of decorum and polite and reasoned discussion. I might be inclined to resent the irony of their now calling such behavior from their opponents “radical.”
The Obama administration and the Democrats claim to represent the people. But they appear to be increasingly out of touch with the emotions, reactions, and thought processes of ordinary Americans. They also appear to underestimate the extent by which they can manipulate citizens by condescendingly mouthing the same old partisan accusations.