Lots of yap-yap-yapping on the news circuit after the President’s State of the Union speech last week, and much of the yap focused on how few Americans watched it.
Which, of course means, that we all think Barack Obama is a schmuck and we don’t care what he has to say.
Wrong, yappity-yappers. I didn’t watch it; it’s not because I don’t like Barack Obama. I love the guy. Voted for him twice. I’m totally down with the hope and change. But there’s no hope for getting hope and change anymore. Not even with a first-term Democratic majority. Even when the Democrats were in charge, they still couldn’t get it right. Losers. That’s why I’m no longer a Democrat. I can’t align myself with incompetence and keep a straight face. But I’m not a Republican either. It’s even harder to keep a straight face when you align yourself with grotesque self-interest.
There was a “Daily Show” clip the other night, noting that key Republicans — including former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan — didn’t even attend the last SOTU. They instead met at a steak house to plot their strategy, and they agreed upon this: If he’s for it, we’re against it. I hope I don’t need to explain who “he” is. If I do, you should probably just proceed to the comics page.
When the Republicans took the majority of the House of Representatives in 2012, oh, there was “change” all right. Well, sort of. Nothing got done in Congress (that’s not a change), but the reasons were different. During Obama’s first term, Democrats rubbed their big toes in the sand and downcast their timid eyes, and said “Aww, shucks, wouldja play nice with us,” and they got wedgied and thrown in the trash can by Republicans. In 2012, that changed. There wasn’t even a conversation anymore. The Republicans weren’t even listening. Marching together like a fierce Roman army, they banged their spears against their shields, chanting: “No. No. No.”
Congress … you’re aware that We the People can see you, right? Moreover, are you aware that we don’t like you much? True, we aren’t head over heels for Obama either, giving him a tepid 42 percent approval rating. But Congress. Dudes. Dudettes. You’re scoring a skunky 13 percent, and I’m surprised the number’s that high. You must have a lot of relatives. Nobody likes you. Democrats and Republicans alike. Even Uncle Sam is thumbing his nose at Congress and saying, “I mean you.”
Gallup’s Jeffry M. Jones succinctly summarizes why we dislike Congress so much right now: “Divided party control of Congress is likely one major factor in Congress’ depressed ratings in recent years. A Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a Democratic majority in the Senate have led to partisan gridlock, with the two houses of Congress usually at odds on how to deal with the major issues facing the country.
“But divided party control of Congress has also made the institution a political orphan, with neither Republicans nor Democrats embracing it as their own. Currently, 17 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of independents, and 14 percent of Democrats approve of Congress.”
In other words, with a majority of either party in both the House and Senate, at least the controlling party would approve of what’s going on. As it stands divided (or, rather, falls, because we all know that saying, and those who don’t are reading Dilbert right now), it means the misery is spread out evenly. I suppose that means we finally have equality — nobody’s happy.
All this in mind, what Obama supporters learned over the last five years is that “hope and change” sounds good, but it takes more than one man to accomplish it. No matter how much the voting majority desired hope and change, one half of Congress was dead set on preventing it. Why? Because if he’s for it, they’re against it.
No. No. No.
And because the Democrats keep attempting to use words to negotiate with warriors, the Republicans just roll right over the top of them, and Obama, too. But what Congressional Republicans fail to realize (or maybe they just don’t care) is that they’re also rolling right over the “hope and change” that the voting majority wanted. You know — “the American People” you hold so dearly whenever a TV camera is pointed in your face. If I hear one more politician blather on about “the American People,” I’ll puke.
I feel worst for the young people who got so fired up in 2008, many of them participating in elections for the first time, and although disappointed over Obama’s first term, gave him another chance and turned out again in 2012. Those young eyes were watching. Obama was their hero, and it turns out, he’s not a hero. He’s just a person. And sadly, the Congressional corporation-fueled machine is much, much larger and meaner than any one person, no matter how brilliant, eloquent or visionary. The machine will roll right over him, or her. I wonder how many of those young folks will care about elections in 2016. Heck, the way things are, I wonder how many of the rest of us will, either.
So, that’s why I didn’t watch the State of the Union address. Not because I don’t like Obama. Not because I don’t believe in him anymore. It’s Congress I don’t believe in. At this point, watching Obama talk about hope and change again, drumming up enthusiasm, well, it’s too painful to watch. It’s embarrassing. I know Obama wants to give me a pony. But he can’t. I don’t blame him. But I’ve stopped hoping for one. I’ve stopped listening to promises Congress won’t let him keep.
As for Congress, they’ll never give us a pony. Only manure.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com