I have had the privilege of spending some time in the “field” over the last few days and the feeling on the ground is very different from anything I have witnessed during any other election season.
On one hand it is exciting to see people engaged about the election. But unlike two years ago, there is not the same excitement or anticipation about the future. I hate using cliché words, but a missing ingredient in what I see is that “hope” that was prevalent last cycle.
This cycle, people seem engaged not because of the hope and anticipation of the future; they seem engaged because of genuine concern and unease. Some interpret this is anger. I really don’t think it is – I think it has everything to do with the fact that unemployment is high, deficits are at record levels, massive tax increases loom on the horizon, and people who bought in to the hope concept have not seen is materialization.
I know, is two years enough time to allow the administration an opportunity to implement the change that was promised to bring us the hope that we had? Mrs. Obama stated this week that we have come too far to turn back now. That is certainly a reasonable argument. It is not one I subscribe to, but it makes sense that some people can feel that way.
But, I’m at a loss of words when the messenger and architect of the “hope” agenda steps away from his normally presidential demeanor and decides it’s alright to stoop to a level I would argue is less than presidential at best, and desperate at worst.
The President recently stated that “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder.”
I am not sure that he meant his words to come out the way I heard them, but this election seems to have brought out the ugly in everyone and I think the president should be the one constant – and in this case, he let me down. Presidential reputation matters and it sets the tone for debate and political discourse. To me, this is a lowering of the bar for political discourse and it does not provide me with a sense of hope for the future. President Obama is the President of the United States – he is not the president of only those who agree with him. More importantly, even if I don’t agree with him, I am not his enemy.
Who knows what next week will mean to the President or the majorities he inherited in Congress just two years ago. But, if you believe the polls, so soon after his historic accomplishment of two years ago, the President is poised for another historic political event – the electoral wipeout of his party with the loss of some of the most familiar faces and longest serving members of Congress.
His “enemy” comments scream panic to me. But, it does remind me that we are blessed to live in the country where the governed have the ability to change the direction of the nation if they are not happy with the direction the nation is heading.
It’s not punishing our enemies, its called exercising our right to vote. Isn’t that what elevated the President to the White House in the first place?