More than four years after the government’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina, people are once again shouting from their rooftops for help – if they are fortunate to still own a rooftop. And, similarly, politicians remain tone deaf to the realities on the ground, cloistered hundreds of miles away in a fake world, oblivious to the screaming voices on Main Street. The winds of change are blowing, a second Katrina is on the horizon, and Washington is failing once more to offer assistance.
The election of Republican Scott Brown as the next Senator from Massachusetts should send a much-needed shiver down the spine of every politician up for re-election this November. The inability of the entire Washington political cast to understand and address the concerns of the average voter is astounding.
Democrats, in particular, have completely ceded their long-held relationship with the working person to outside groups, seemingly more aligned and attuned to the needs of Wall Street than Main Street. While it’s no secret that President Obama was never viewed as the most empathetic, lunch bucket type of candidate during the campaign, the failure of his administration to comprehend and act upon the anxiety of the average American is beyond belief.
The real unemployment rate, taking into consideration those out of work, underemployed, working two and three jobs, and who have completely given up hope of finding a job, is close to twenty percent. Think about that – nearly one in five Americans is unemployed or underemployed. The administration’s response to this economic catastrophe? To pass what was considered -- by any quantifiable measure -- a failed economic stimulus package, to cozy up to Wall Street, and to focus like a laser beam on health care reform. This unlikely response must be the genesis of a bad movie.
Instead of focusing single-handedly on creating jobs and getting this country back to work, the Obama administration touts an ethereal “saved” jobs quotient and chooses to select health care reform as their main priority. While important, health care reform is a secondary or tertiary priority in this environment and, believe me, pales in comparison to one’s economic security and sense of purpose in life. When you don’t have a job, health care reform is not your primary consideration, especially a half-baked, ineffective Senate version written by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The Obama administration claims regularly that it can walk and chew gum at the same time, yet they have accomplished neither very well.
While the Obama administration did inherit an economic mess, they have done little to salve the wounds of injured Americans. Admittedly, the government cannot wave a magic wand and solve the economic woes in an instant. But it can try. Team Obama should focus its entire energy on turning the disastrous economy around or should, at a minimum, give the impression that it hears the concerns of average Americans.
In the current milieu, despair has replaced hope, and status quo has trumped change. Americans, including many lifelong Democrats, are clearly not happy with the direction of the country. Should Democrats continue to delude themselves and justify these losses with happy talk of having run weak candidates, rather than to address the underlying reasons for voter discontent, they will be in for a major surprise this November.
For the sake of the country, let’s hope that politicians heed the loud message being bellowed from the rooftops on Main Street. Soon.