Militant moderates?

There are, believe it or not, good politicians.
– Daniel Keys Moran

By Ken Feltman

This is one of those times when fewer and fewer Americans believe that good politicians exist. Doubters always speak out but they are usually balanced by people who voice more positive or at least conciliatory terms. Not now. People are fed up. We may be seeing the birth of the militant moderates.

Take a look at I Said and see what people are saying about the current debt ceiling crisis. Here are some samples of what people who call themselves independent voters, from around the country, think about Washington politicians:

+We have a group of insiders in Washington who need to be put out like the cat at night. (A woman in Nevada)

+Don’t they understand we’re broke? Stop spending like we still have money. We don’t. (A woman in Texas)

+Who believes that Obama and those Congressmen know what they’re doing? Who does, really now? (A man in South Carolina)

+Total incompetence. No country can be taken seriously when we look like clowns. (A man in New Jersey)

+Let’s spend more on America’s future and less on overpaid bureaucrats and people who whine that they need more welfare. (A woman in Michigan)

+They probably have no idea how stupid they make the whole country look. (Another woman in Nevada)

+I don’t think President Obama has been at all helpful. He’s campaigning. That’s about all he’s good for. (A woman in Pennsylvania)

+Reid is sanctimonious and sneaky. The House guy is a complete wipeout. And we expect them to fix things? (Another man in Iowa)

+No matter what they say in Washington, we all know they won’t decide. We out here are going to have to make the tough choices that they won’t make. We have to. There’s no money. (A man in Kansas)

+They’re just pigs who want to spend our money. That’s the fun part for them. Cutting stuff out isn’t fun so they won’t do it. (A third man in Iowa)

+I can’t believe it. They just point fingers. I’d like to stick my finger in their eye. (A woman in Florida)

+We thought we got rid of that liberal woman and we got this goof with the name I don’t remember, from Ohio. He’s a zero. (A man in Michigan)

+I’m not sure but I think my son’s goldfish could do just as well. (A man in Nevada)

+I think it’s Obama who’s got to go. He’s the man at the top and this ain’t working. (A woman in Missouri)

+I say don’t vote for anybody but new people. I could do as good a job as Obama or Pelosi or any of them. (Another woman in Pennsylvania)

+You know we could do better than Obama and that Congress. Why do we need them at all? (A man in Pennsylvania)

+What is this Boehner guy doing? He keeps pulling stuff back. (Another man in Pennsylvania)

+The Chinese are loving this. (A man in Florida)
These comments were made by swing voters during focus groups this week. They may not reflect the national mood. Many Americans have only a dim awareness of the debt ceiling debate in Washington. Others have tuned out politics and politicians. Beside that, people who volunteer for focus groups tend to bone up on current issues. They also tend to be more assertive and willing to state their opinions. They participate in civic affairs. They are the centrist voters who swing elections.

Analysis of the comments yields three conclusions:

1. These moderates understand that the country needs to cut back on spending. In fact, many express surprise that President Obama and most Democrats do not seem to share their sense of urgency. They are disenchanted with Democrats, Republicans, the tea parties and the president.

2. They believe that Washington cannot or will not solve the problem. The most common solution offered is to get new people in office. Their view of the tea party has changed. They see the tea party as rigid, even reckless.

3. These independent voters conclude that Obama is ineffective and has become part of the problem. Many have come to that conclusion reluctantly. But they have come to it.

A Texan put it this way: “There’s no float to it. Obama’s goodwill has sunk to the bottom.”

More than anger, these voters express sadness when assessing the Obama presidency. They see it as a failure that will end with next year’s election – unless the Republicans manage once again to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.

In short, these people think the Democrats do not get it. They think the Republicans are in over their heads. They seem to be ready to blame the tea party for the debt ceiling fiasco.

More active in community affairs than most people, these centrists see a long road ahead to economic recovery. They resent the partisanship and political posturing of their elected officials. They believed they sent a strong message last November. Most are ready to vote additional politicians out of office, hoping that the replacements will get the message.

A growing number of these increasingly militant moderates are talking about changing the system to prevent Washington from getting out of hand again. Some are considering seeking office themselves because they believe that may be the only way they can make a difference.

These are somber people, frustrated with their own inability to put capable people into office. Reading through the thousands of comments leads to another conclusion: These are people who intend to do more than complain. Perhaps, finally, the center of the country is going to do more than swing elections.

Perhaps the moderates will become as aggressive and assertive as the followers of the tea parties and the fringes of the two parties. What might that mean? Watch for a battle over a balanced budget amendment.

About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
This entry was posted in Balanced Budget amendment, Congress, Favorites, Federal budget, Ken Feltman, National debt, Politics, President Obama and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Militant moderates?

  1. NH says:

    Let me add my own two cents worth. DEBT is what our society is
    familiar with. Debt on credit cards. Debt on a new car. Debt on a
    vacation spree. Debt on an expensive wedding. Debt on an expensive
    house (no longer a 20 year mortgage but 40 year). Instant
    gratification rules the day. In Washington they are spending (and
    it’s been going on for MANY many years) OPM……other people’s
    money. Why is there NOW such a dilemma about this debt? Haven’t
    other administrations also had debt?

    WHO lends us the money besides China? Are maybe three large US banks
    lending the GOV money? WHO exactly hold the big pocketbook? Does
    anyone ever think of paying down the principle instead of ‘just’ the
    interest? All of these wars in the Middle East are expensive. First
    we send the troops over. Then we spend our money building up their
    infrastructure. It’s time to build the infrastructure of quite a few
    cities in the US.

    Not too many people are frugal anymore. I can give examples but won’t
    mention names. Years ago I had a friend who bought her first
    microwave oven on time payments AND both she and her husband had good
    jobs. Now I am thinking, they must have been up to their eyeballs in
    debt! Then I had another friend who complained that during a piano
    lesson she was teaching, their electricity went off. She could not
    figure out WHY! Then I thought they did not pay their electric
    bill. Yep. Husband was the keeper of their
    household checkbook. But WHAT a spender he was and still is…….

    Golly……I didn’t mean to sound so crabby. But the media is
    stirring up alot of folks. It’s crazy. I’m sure some plan will get
    the vote before the deadline. It’s a bad charade.
    Wouldn’t it be unique if someone like Sarah or Michele B was
    President…….absolute catastrophe….but I’d love to see either one
    of them squirm!

    • Joao says:

      Any business, other than a coptorarion, will almost always rely on your personal credit because YOU are the business. Newer Corporations usually have to sign a Personal Guarantee on any credit they obtain. Do you need credit in order to start your business? Since you are filing bankruptcy maybe to will be able to save a little money first.

  2. 2Neat says:

    We enjoy reading your words.

  3. Fogey Fred says:

    Nope we ain’t got any money, we’re broke. So, let’s get out of ALL our little, meaningless, self-serving and expensive military operations around the globe. THEN we will have plenty of money. Oh yes, national security. No problem, we can all bear arms and defend ourselves from all those bad guys out there. Save the world with democracy. Lord have mercy, perhaps we should first save our own democracy. Big government, little government, no government. The founding fathers, from the beginning, saw all these same problems and concerns. The problems, issues and concerns all have remained and have become even more exacerbated, up through today. We are a little people, little in the way we think, little in the way we act. We don’t look like fools, we are fools. We are deficient in judgment, sense, and understanding. I believe in the goodness of man, but not in the conglomerate nature of man, the mob reactions of man. We again must live through silly machinations by a very silly group of men and women. There is no exit. It’s Sisyphus all over again.

    A silly moderate who doesn’t have the guts, time, money or smarts enough to be militant. Just being outraged is enough!

  4. Learned my lesson says:

    I supported the Tea Party. I learned my lesson. They email me all the time. Just want money. Then they tell congress to be a big roadblock on raising the ceiling. Ruin the country for a principle that they can’t even explain. What wingers these folks are. Won’t make that mistake again.

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