Opinion

It’s not you, it’s me

Sarah Field Contributor

You’re giving me the ‘it’s not you it’s me’ routine?  I invented ‘it’s not you it’s me.’  So nobody tells me it’s not me it’s them.  If it’s anybody – it’s me!” George Costanza

Yesterday, Politico ran a piece attempting to break down the authors’ perceived gap between Obama’s “accomplishments” and his continued drop in the polls.  According to the piece, the authors cannot understand why “[h]aving moved swiftly toward achieving the very policy objectives he promised voters as a candidate, Obama is still widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency.”

So, what could possibly be the reason for the “mystery” of his unpopularity, they ask?  Could it be the great unpopularity of the very actions listed as “accomplishments?”  Of course not.  The authors quickly dismiss the notion of his agenda as the source of the problem, instead swooning about his “impressive” victories with health care, the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill, and the war in Iraq.

One could also posit that it’s the fact that President Obama’s agenda is far more liberal than the promises he espoused on the campaign trail.  This observation certainly seems consistent with the June numbers released by Democracy Corps, James Carville and Stan Greenberg’s polling firm, which indicate that 56 percent of likely voters believe that President Obama is “too liberal.”  Now, I’ve never been very good with numbers  — which is, in large part, why I went to law school – but it seems to me that this data is problematic for a President who captured 52.9 percent of the popular vote.  In other words, many of his voters are surprised, and even frustrated, at the extent to which he governs as a big-government liberal.

But, no.  The authors never even address this point.  So, it’s not the unpopularity of his legislative actions.  It’s not that he has governed in a far more liberal manner than his campaign predicted.  So what is it?  Oh…it’s our fault.  The authors reduce it to one factor: a communications breakdown.  The West Wing just isn’t doing a good enough job of selling these policies to the American people and so we simply do not understand how good we have it.  One Obama adviser was even quoted as saying, “‘I tell you, it’s very frustrating that [the message] is not breaking through.”

This could not be farther from the truth.  The problem is one of competing worldviews, not an epic White House communications failure.  Americans are individualists, entrepreneurial, and reluctant to hand over control of their lives, liberty, or property to the government – particularly the federal government.  The Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda turns this paradigm on its head, instead centralizing federal government power over our lives.  My observation is not a new one; anyone who has read Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions clearly understands this point.   Our worldviews and how we view the nature of man, the role of society and government, and other philosophical and theological questions, fundamentally shape our policy agendas.

You either think government is the solution to the problem, or it is the problem. And, unless your worldview shifts, no amount of clever wordsmithing, or smokescreens, will ever change your opinion.

Have you ever heard, “it’s not you, it’s me?”  I know that I have.  People employ this phrase to distract from, and even soften, the blow of ending a relationship.  The dirty little secret – that we all know – is that it simply doesn’t work.  The words do nothing to distract from the fact that, at least to one party, what’s about to happen is very undesirable.

Yet, this is exactly what the media suggests that the Obama White House do.  “If only they made it sound nicer,” the theory goes, “the American people would finally accept President Obama’s liberal agenda.”  Apparently, we just need to have our ears tickled because we mistakenly thought we disliked the president’s policies because they are bad for the country.

George Costanza may have invented “it’s not you, it’s me,” but President Obama and his allies are perfecting it.

Sarah Field is the Director of Policy and General Counsel of Liberty Central, Inc., a non-profit organization whose primary objective is to harness the power of citizen voices, inform everyday Americans with knowledge, and activate them to preserve liberty.