Vox Populi

I heard my voice on television last night.

Not just my voice. I also heard the voices of my neighbors, my friends, my co-workers, and those of millions of people I don’t know.

Someone finally stood up and gave voice to what we’ve all been thinking. Someone finally directly told the people in Congress to knock it off. That their job is not to cling tenaciously to ideological ideals, to call each other names, to walk out of negotiations, or any of the other hooey that has gripped our nation’s captiol for the past two months or more.

The job of Congress is to govern. And, I’m sorry if neither the Tea Party nor extremist Democrats recognize it, but the way you get things done is to sit down at a table and compromise. You don’t hold the federal budget or the nation’s ability to pay its debts hostage to get what you want. You insist on certain things and give ground on others, and you get a bill through Congress the president will sign, so all of us out here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave can benefit.

Finally, someone said this. Someone gathered all of Congress together and told them Americans don’t care about their politics. They just want jobs and relief from a stagnant economy.

To my very great surprise, that person was the president.

You read that right. I was surprised to hear the president’s smoldering tone last night. He sounded like an angry parent scolding teenagers, and he needed to.

But this has not been President Obama’s style. He’s been smooth and cool and calm since he started running for President in 2007. In office, he attempted to operate as compromiser-in-chief. It’s an admirable goal. Obama has tried in vain for three years to get people to sit down and talk and come to consensus.

Last night, he clearly had had enough. Over and over again, he noted that the jobs bills he was pushing contained ideas supported by Democrats and Republicans, so there was no reason not to pass it. “Stop the political circus,” he said.

He reminded Congress the next election is 14 months away, and that the unemployed and the working poor do not have time to wait for an election to solve this problem.

You can think what you like about the president. You can like or hate his proposal. You can hope he gets re-elected in 2012 or thrown out of office.

But whatever your politics, he got this one right. Because last night President Obama said what everyone has been thinking, “Congress, do your job.” I have yet to speak to a single neighbor, friend, or co-worker who didn’t share this sentiment. This is what we are all thinking — Democrats, Republicans, indepedents, and those who barely pay attention to politics.

In his address to Congress, the president accurately articulated the voice of the people. It’s about time someone did.

And it’s about time Congress sat up and listened.


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