Recent statistics have left me absolutely cold. It’s not unreasonable for any American to find themselves shivering in fear at the overwhelmingly negative opinion our citizens have of our elected leaders.
Sure, Congress is a perennial favorite for nominations of incompetence, but I still can’t fathom why each president we elect — in theory, by popular majority — finds themselves with an approval rating of less than the majority 51 percent. We all know about the electoral college, of course, but the thought of any president having such pitiful approval ratings is enough to make even the most steadfast civics-minded citizen quake in disgust, distrust and ultimately, fear.
And these approval ratings can certainly be telling. After all, it’s only those with low numbers who dismiss the polls as nothing more than media shenanigans. Taken as a whole (and conducted equally and fairly between Republican, Democratic and independent voters) the numbers allow us to gauge Americans’ priorities and loyalties rather accurately.
Take, for instance, the latest Gallup poll that showed that half of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. That’s right, Mr. President. More people would rather see the dreaded drug legalized than see you spend another four years in the White House.
Yes, that highly addictive and deadly “demon weed”— the drug that has for generations terrified responsible adults who attended late-night viewings of “Reefer Madness” — currently has a higher approval rating than our president. That venomous scourge that threatened to transform our disciplined upper-class, straight-A, God-fearing daughters into wanton love slaves; the vile weed that would turn our all-American, apple pie-eating, baseball-playing sons into psychotic murderers (and, additionally, would cause our boys to play the piano while laughing with eyes rolled back maniacally), now garners more support than our sitting president, an admitted former user of the drug.
I’m young enough to have missed the Cuban missile crisis, though that, too, has become outdated as much as the idea of a Soviet regime. In 2009 nearly half of polled Americans were in favor of dropping the dated trade embargo with Cuba, with more in favor of allowing travel to the island. Of those polled, 58 percent were Democrats — the very individuals who are now trying to distance themselves from the formerly messianic President Obama.
Which is terrifyingly humorous in so many ways. Though an overwhelming number of Americans support renewed diplomatic ties with Cuba — be it for allowing travel or ending the trade embargo altogether — the United States government has reiterated the dangers of Cuba ad nauseam, reminding us that the communist regime headed by those Castro boys is an affront to capitalism, human rights and American values.
And yet I can’t seem to buy a spatula that isn’t made in China, the epitome of dangerous communism, and the country that garners the most finger-pointing when it comes to a complete disregard for human rights. Their counterfeit products alone make a mockery of the American work force, and yet we as a country outsource more jobs to China on any given day than the average American can fathom.
Granted, President Obama’s average approval rating stands at 50 percent to date, but that’s a far cry from George H.W. Bush’s average of more than 60 percent (which, somewhat ironically, is nearly eight points higher than that of his predecessor and mentor, The Great Communicator and Jelly Belly fanatic, Ronald Reagan). And the “no new taxes” one-termer was evicted after four years by a smooth-talking good ol’ boy from Arkansas.
And with Mitt Romney gaining steam — and proving in each debate performance that he comes to the table prepared and able to engage in the finest of off-the-cuff verbal jousting — President Obama has his work cut out for him.
Regardless of who clinches the GOP nomination, or who finds himself sitting comfortably in the Oval Office in January 2013, I hope that one year from now Americans will elect a president that they overwhelmingly approve of and deem trustworthy. I truly hate the thought of our fine citizens sympathizing more with the plight of illicit drugs and communists than our own government.
The Rev. Erick T. Gatcomb is a freelance journalist and professional luthier who lives in Hancock.