There is a phrase used and overused by members of Congress that grates on me like fingernails on a blackboard: “the American people.”

It’s most often used in conjunction with some other descriptive word to make some sort of point: “The American People say,” “The American people want,” “the American people believe,” “”The American people have spoken,” and on and on ad nauseam.

Since our recent bought-and-paid-for national election, members of both parties are spouting this “American people want” nonsense as they try to tell us they are doing what we told them we wanted done.

Road apples!

One out-of-touch and apparently unhearing person who used this phrase repeatedly in the last week has no idea what “the American people” said with their votes: Sen. Minority Leader McConnell.

The loudest message from Democrats and Republicans alike was “stop the ridiculous gridlock and name-calling and do our business!” Liberal or conservative, that was the common message. “Make Congress work!”

So McConnell reads the message this way: “Our highest priority is to make the president a one-term president” and “We will stop any Democrat attempt to spend more money.” In other words, gridlock.

His ally, House Speaker-in-waiting Boehner: “We’re going to shove bills through to defund as many parts of the health care law as we can and to keep the Bush tax cuts.” In other words, gridlock.

Democrats in both houses are equally capable of ignoring the “American people’s” message. They’re keeping lightning rod Nancy Pelosi in House minority leadership and the grossly ineffective Harry Reid as majority leader in the Senate.

I spent three years in the Washington, D.C. political-media atmosphere and I can attest to the isolated nature of life therein. It only takes a couple of months to slide into the comfortable cocoon of non-reality. Information is circuitous, going from one isolated person to another. It’s morphed each time as each one adds/subtracts a detail or two and passes it on. You become a believer no matter what your instincts tell you. Quickly, you become isolated from “the American people” and what they really want.

There is nothing in a politician’s life in that world equating to anything in Wenatchee, Bend, Pocatello or Billings. Nothing! That’s why, fortified by a little sour mash one evening, I missed reality and went home to find it.

Look at it this way. Your kid goes into the military for two years. He or she comes home 24 months later and you’re dumbfounded by the new words, new look, new ideas and new talk about a reality that certainly isn’t yours. It’s very much the same. Only the example here is much, much more positive.

Many … not all …but many members of Congress have proven in word, deed and vote they have absolutely no idea what the American people want. The concept has been replaced with one that tells them “I know what they want because, if they knew what I know, that’s what they’d want.” I’ve seen and heard that time and time again. In spades! The arrogance of isolation.

When one of those people launches into “What the American people want” speeches, you’re often looking at someone who doesn’t necessarily believe that and probably doesn’t have any realistic idea. You’re looking at someone, putting on the false cloak of knowing the hardships at home, mouthing words about unemployment and other problems they have no first-hand knowledge of, but who is well-fed, well-paid, employed and wants to stay that way.

Congress is the last place to go to find out what the American people really want. And it irritates the Hell out of me when members say it. People on the stools in most neighborhood bars more often have a better grasp.

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