"Throw all the bums out!"
That's the message one incumbent Republican congressman received from a friendly constituent via e-mail recently. "I hope this doesn't happen to you," the constituent confided, forwarding an anti-Congress message to his representative. And then added, "... but, whatever."
It's an anti-Washington mood out there, in other words, fairly or unfairly. It used to be joked that voters' attitudes were generally: "Throw the bums out -- just not mine!" But these days, Congress is consistently not held in high esteem in public-opinion polls. And so even if you appreciate the virtues and record of your congressman, it's possible that you've just been too disappointed by politics and politicians in general to care all that much who gets swept up in the Tea Party tide.
The recipient of the "but whatever" e-mail gets it. And so, it would seem, does the Republican leadership, which is why they'd like you to log onto americaspeakingout.com.
The website's reason for being is explained as: "America deserves a Congress that respects the priorities of the people. Unfortunately, Washington hasn't been listening. Let's change that."
As Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who has spearheaded the project, has explained it: "'This is an open community and a debate of ideas; you submit the idea, you debate the idea, you put it into your network and you'll continue to have that dialogue."
America Speaking Out comes at the perfect time. We all remember the town halls of last summer where, across the country, people let their congressman know exactly what they thought of the health-care push from Washington. And Republicans are hoping that voters will once again speak out about their unhappiness with the ruling party in Washington and interact with help form the agenda of and vote for the opposition in November.
The approach is born out of a certain amount of humility, too. In a Facebook posting, Sarah Palin, queen of the Tea Party if there is one, endorsed the effort, writing: "From the bailouts to the wasteful stimulus spending bill to the $2.5 trillion health care take over (sic), Washington stopped listening to us average everyday hardworking Americans ... so we're doing something about that."
Another way of putting it might be: "We know you're mad, and you've been mad as Republicans as much as Democrats along the way. We get it and we want you to make sure we change things."