What they don’t get is that most Americans apply common sense and their real life experiences when evaluating issues or ideas. And often they are confused by much of the “official” news they read or hear.
One example can be found in the endless chorus of news reports heralding our nation’s great economic recovery. They are hearing it, but they are not feeling it. Expectations were that the public would go on a spending spree during the holidays. That didn’t happen.
The public was in no mood to spend as freely as expected in part due to economic uncertainty stirred up by concerns over what their cost of health insurance might be in the coming months and years, under the Affordable Care Act. Their question likely was “Affordable for who and when?”
Added to that question is another “official fact” that most Americans who are not in the D.C. bubble or who don’t live in a few out-of-touch affluent areas in our nation don’t understand. They are told that unemployment is dropping and that this is a big sign of an economic recovery. But recent numbers don’t suggest a rosy employment picture, and even when we see numbers improving, they don’t reflect the millions of Americans who no longer count in the reports. They are workers who have dropped off the rolls and who have given up trying to find work.
Everyone in the real world knows plenty of folks who used to have full-time jobs, but now seem to be doing a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. While many are not scrambling with the same look of fear and desperation we saw at the height of the Great Recession, they are still trying to sustain themselves and their families by making do with less and working in less-conventional ways. They aren’t convinced that unemployment in America has been solved.
Then there’s the issue of global warming. Apparently, some Democrats in Washington want those who produce entertainment programs to work global warming and its evils into their scripts more often. That’s likely because the nation has been shivering in the past month and most Americans can’t figure out if things are melting or freezing. And, if so, they wonder how their so-called “carbon footprint” matters as opposed to the movie stars and ex-Vice President who jet-set everywhere leaving a much bigger carbon mess behind.
And the “average Joe” has wondered how we solve global warming if the United States continues to place increased burdens on its energy suppliers and consumers, but huge nations in other parts of the world don’t. Will we save just our little corner of the world or is it that we think we are more important than these other nations, and thereby our efforts will count more with Mother Nature?
The list goes on and on. The pundits think we all follow politics and government every day. Anyone with a real life does not. No one cares about their press conferences and proclamations. Most can’t name the Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader, not because they are ignorant, but because they don’t trust Congress and don’t believe it matters to get involved.
And then there are flair-ups like the one facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. To older voters, Christie’s amazingly similar appearance to that of the late comedian Jackie Gleason in Gleason’s younger years is the main reason to even notice him. Most voters don’t live in New Jersey and don’t care what happens there. If they find out he knew a bridge was closed for political purposes, they won’t be shocked or overly upset.
After all, to the average American trying to stay warm, feed his or her family, and watch a little football or basketball, these politicians and the media will say or do anything. That’s the one thing that makes common sense.
Matt Towery is author of the book “Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency.”