In the final “State of the Union” address of his presidency last night, Barack Obama kept mostly to a pre-released script, but when he went off-book, the results were revealing. At one point, the president even hinted that elected leaders should not feel themselves accountable to the voters who make up their “base.”
“There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected,” Obama declared. He added that these well-meaning congressmen and senators feel “trapped by the noise coming out of your base.”
NPR reporter Susan Davis took to Twitter, noting that “Obama’s line about lawmakers feeling ‘trapped by the noise coming out of your base’ was ad-libbed. Not in prepared speech text.” Obama wanted to hit that point hard.
While “a more elevated debate in Washington” would certainly be welcome, Obama overlooks the real concerns of voters, many of whom want their elected representatives to actually stand firm for the principles they ran and won on. His attack here implies that if it weren’t for those pesky voters holding their elected leaders accountable, everything would be hunky-dory.
In other words, Obama is for democracy, so long as the voters want his policies. Otherwise, those pesky voters are just getting in the way of “a more elevated debate.”