If there’s one mantra that’s always recited by politicians it’s “The American people want this,” and “The American people want that.”
But based on the congressional gridlock surrounding the country’s deficit, it’s clear Republicans and Democrats are oblivious to what the American people really want, or need for that matter.
Republicans and Tea Party members say “The American people want spending cuts” and “The American people don’t want tax hikes.”
Democrats and President Obama say “The American people want the rich to be taxed,” “The American people don’t want Social Security and Medicare to be cut.”
“The American people want jobs,” “The American people want a balanced budget,” and so on.
The hackneyed catchphrase is nothing more than an exploitative ploy to sway political debate, and undermine the American people.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said on MSNBC, “Why in the world is there not a balanced budget amendment in the U.S. Senate? That’s the question the American people should be asking…I think the American people would like to see us do that.”
Coburn and nearly all politicians do more harm than good when they invoke their personal views onto the American people. Policy, especially those that pertain to the nation’s economy, should literally come from the people — if you’re going to put words in their mouth, that is.
Rather than speculating what the American people want, politicians should flat out say what it is they personally believe congress should do. A congressman, or senator expressing his or her personal views does not imply that he or she is somehow disingenuous — it implies quite the opposite. What is disingenuous, however, is implicating “the American people” for the sake of political squabble, or persuasion as opposed to actually carrying out the will of the people — which is very skewed at best.
President Obama, too, succumbed to “the American people” mantra. During a press conference, Mr. Obama told reporters that the American people were “sold” on a balanced approach to reaching a debt deal.
Video of President’s statement below:
The difference between Obama and Coburn, and other Republicans, is that Obama (although he exaggerated the numbers) was somewhat accurate in his statements. A majority of the people are sold.
Polls from Gallup and the Washington Post revealed that a majority of Americans do support a mixed approach of spending cuts and tax increases. However, the slippery slope of polls is that a percentage of the people (the minority and undecided) are always ignored, forlornly pushed aside for the accommodation of the “majority.”
Politicians need to be honest with the public, and most importantly honest with themselves. It is understood that congress is elected by the people to serve the people, which implicitly gives them the authority to use their discretion, opinions, etc.
The truth of the matter is that no politician can go before a camera and declare what the American people want, because the American people, and politicians for that matter, will never stand on one solid platform. There is no one, monolithic way of dealing with the economy, nor will there ever be one general opinion from the American public.
So please politicians, I beg you, kill it with the speeches, and get down to compromising for the ones you claim to serve: the people.