Quite Frankly: Town Hall Attendees Seeks to Cash-In On “Change”

27 Sep

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As much as I side with Barack Obama on matters of transformation of social programs, fiscal responsibility and relief for the middle class, I can’t help but to wonder if the president knew what he was getting into by addressing an assembly of what can only be described as frustrated Americans at an economic town hall meeting which aired on CNBC last Monday.

While many attendees voiced their concerns about economic uncertainty, difficulties in securing employment and complications faced as small business owners, the pinnacle moment no doubt came when a self-proclaimed Obama supporter let the president know non-to-gently how fatigued she was at coming to the defense of him and his administration.  And while I am sure a lot of eyebrows were raised and “oh-no-she-didn’ts” were uttered en masse amongst Obama loyalists, I must say that these are exactly the types of truths that the president must hear from Americans both on the left and right, AND these are the types of truths that he must address distinctly if he is to restore any type of confidence in his leadership with the American people.

Caught a bit off guard I’m sure, President Obama did attempt to speak to this woman’s concerns, highlighting areas where he believed his administration had gotten it right; specifically with changes in the affordability of college loans and more loans, grants and scholarship funds being directly available for students, the laws established to keep credit card companies from taking advantage of their customers, and the legislation written to disallow insurance companies from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions.  Still, while these changes undoubtedly assist the average American in ascertaining stepping stones toward their American Dream, to me it felt that this woman’s exasperated personal declaration went unanswered.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

To be fair, President Obama is correct when he incessantly states (on any given occasion) that it took nearly a decade for the country to get to this place of recession, war, uncertainty and economic stagnation, but he has to realize that Americans (myself included) are tired of that being the answer to every question that he receives about what he plans to do to move the nation forward and to every critique that is leveled at him.

What I’ve continually noticed in scenarios like last week’s town hall meeting is that for some strange reason, this administration does not appear able to capitalize on these prime opportunities when President Obama has the nation’s ear.  He seems to readily acknowledge that for those Americans who are employed but have experienced significant decreases in their home values, no appreciation in their 401(k)s or haven’t had a raise in quite a while; that their fiscal status is the economic equivalent to treading water, but from there, that seems to be where his message becomes fuzzy.

“My goal here is not to try to convince you that everything is where it needs to be, it’s not. That’s why I ran for president. But what I am saying is, is that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Sure, in only two years’ time, that sounds genuine and forthright, but certainly not all that reassuring to the Americans barely making ends meet and those who are worse off than that.  And while he and his administration are likely doing the things laid out on his presidential action item list, he seems to be failing at making people feel that progress.  Besides, with the attacks that are regularly directed at him (even more so than his administration) from those who habitually aim to diminish his authority or simply seek to unseat him in 2012, President Obama has got to be more than town hall sound bites and stump rhetoric if he wants America to continue to believe in the type of change (I still believe) he has in him to institute.


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