Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Voters want better, more accountable government.
It is a common misconception that voters simply “voted for a ‘change’” when they voted for Barack Obama for President in 2008. I would submit that voters voted for a more accountable government. Voters had actually begun to express their dissatisfaction with our elected officials in Washington much earlier, in the mid-term Congressional elections of 2006, and they continued to express their dissatisfaction with the “status quo” by electing a President of the opposing party in 2008. Barack Obama’s timing just happened to be perfect. He came along with his mantra of "change"”, offering comforting sounding themes, at a time when many voters had become disillusioned with government, fatigued after 7 years of war and nervous about the slowing economy.
His Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, offered “change” in leadership, but to the frustrated and “Bush fatigued” voters, McCain was too much like Bush. As ironic as that may seem considering McCain’s moderate reputation and his “Maverick” history of differing with his party leadership, he still represented “the past” in most voters minds, especially the millions of new voters Obama attracted to the polls. Voters wanted to look to a new future, a future of new ideas, and Barack Obama offered a fundamental change in direction, a “new approach” and hopefully better, not "bigger", government. “Hope” if you will, was summarized by his campaign theme of “Yes we can !”
It is now stunning to see how quickly that "hope” has seemed to fade, ( http://www.abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/obamas-approval-ratings-low-economy-health-care/story?id=9342510&ros=true ) and Americans have continued to voice their unhappiness, not only with the performance of their elected representatives, but with the direction of the country as a whole. Voters seem to have realized that “change” for change’s sake is not what they wanted, or what America needs ! Last summer, Americans of every political stripe across the country attended townhalls held by their Congressmen and Senators, they rallied at “Tea Parties” to voice their concerns, and they have been speaking out by writing letters to the editor and calling their elected representatives in Lansing and Washington to voice their opinions and concerns.
This, in my opinion, is the “silver-lining” in our current situation. The crisis we have suffered through has the potential to make us a better, stronger country. It has mobilized and energized millions of Americans to vote, speak out and become active in our government at every level.
We are witnessing a historic time in our country. Yes, it is a time of “change”, but the change is not yet finished. In a sense the most important part of the change has just begun, the return of the American people’s participation in their government. The Founding Fathers envisioned a country governed by “We the people …”, and as President Abraham Lincoln reminded us in his Gettysburg Address during our nation’s most trying time, the Civil War, our constitution created a government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people”. I have confidence in the ability of “We the people” to not only survive the current crisis, but for our country to emerge a stronger, better democracy.