There was an article in today's Huffington Post by Michael Roth (We Need to Create Trust - <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-roth/we-need-to-create-trust_b_778688.html>). In the article Roth made a statement about Obama "being out of touch." This is not a new development within his administration. This phenomena was easy to see during the primary elections for some of us who volunteered on his campaign at the grassroots level before the Obama For America (OFA) campaign came into town.
One of the things that attracted me to Obama (and that caused me to end a decade-long political hibernation) was how the President spoke like an organizer. Having done some organizing myself (in the same era as Obama), I quickly identified with what he was saying, and had an idea of how to get the job done. To me, it was all about building a bottom-up organization from within each community. To me, that has always been where the 'power of the people' exists.
Here in Washington, a few of us built a great statewide grassroots structure - a structure that served the official campaign quite well when they came in and took over our work. The methodology of OFA however, was the typical top-down structure inherent within our current political thinking. Leaders should be nothing more than servants of the people. Within the Obama campaign, however, the top-down seemed to always be obstructing the bottom-up.
(I know this happened in a few areas of the nation. I know also that in other areas of the nation this phenomena did not occur. There are a variety of factors and dynamics involved.)
This same top-down, "Leaders know best" mentality was one of factors in so many of Obama's supporters becoming disenchanted with the President during the Health Care Reform debates. If memory serves correct, the majority of Americans in the early polling favored single-payer. This included a substantial number of people who identified themselves as Republicans.
Yet, the single-payer advocates were denied a seat at the table (some were arrested). The public option was sold out by Obama even before the debate started when he cut a backroom deal with big pharma. In Obama's attempt to "get along," he clearly missed the mood of the nation - especially his more progressive supporters. In the end, we did get a health care bill better than what we have, but one that falls far short of actually fixing the problem.
We saw the result of these repeated actions last Tuesday. People stayed at home. The electorate trusts neither party to do the correct thing. The electorate correctly assumes that the "representatives" we send to Washington are going to do what they think is best (based upon their own single-minded perspectives) without strongly advocating on behalf of the people.
In the end, the corporate theft of America continues unabated, and the misery of the common people continues.
In my own community, I know a few Republicans. Away from the political forums, we can always greet one another in a civil and humanitarian fashion. When at a political forum (such as a candidate debate) its amazing how many people on either side of the aisle can not look at the "opposition." I can engage in friendly discourse and achieve agreement with anyone. So often though, the "opposition" seems perplexed at such a show of civility that they really don't know how to respond.
This problem exists on both sides of the aisle at the community level.
At the community level, many who claim to be conservatives see the same problems as we on the progressive side see - namely the corporate theft of our nation. How much more is this true of the "independents?" Yet, we seem to have no where to turn - no true leaders for the people.
In my experience, I seem to be able to find quicker agreement with rank-and-file Tea Party folks on the big picture than I can with many Democrats. It seems that these good people (rank-and-file Democrats) only want to discuss policy issues within the confines of our current political discourse.
It seems that there are those within the Legislative District Republican Party who are not necessarily happy with the direction of their own party. Yet, the Democrats don't offer much of an alternative (and I say this as a member of the Democratic Party), nor are the rank-and-file Democrats necessarily open to overcoming this polarization.
In my belief, the answer to the nation's problems will not be found in waiting for deliverance from the top. We create our own deliverance from the bottom through our discourse within the neighborhoods and precincts of the nation.
An old Chinese saying states "When the people are many in body yet one in mind, they can achieve anything." To create "many in body but one in mind" requires face-to-face dialog within the neighborhoods and precincts.