Nov. 24, 2010By Kayla Purvis
I’m sitting in the kitchen of an old New Hampshire farmhouse. On the counter next to me is an almost-empty jug of apple cider, a porcelain coffee cup, quilted place mats and multiple newspapers from the surrounding area. Underneath these things I find a pile of newsletters showing livestock for sale, a regional milk price stabilization meeting flyer, an advertisement for New England Holstein breeders and a chart of the soon-to-be-declining milk prices.
Saturday night, I spent the evening admiring calves and helping to clean the box stall of a very old (and very big) cow called “22.” I watched as two farmers milked their dairy cows. They are beginning the process of switching from dairy farming to beef farming because it turns a better profit in today’s economy. Their farm currently does not turn a profit, but instead breaks even.
It is these sort of situations that are keeping President Barack Obama’s approval and job ratings down. RealClearPolitics.com’s current polls give him 46 percent job approval and a 48 percent disapproval. His failed stimulus, expensive health care reform and lack of promised change is what has some Americans regretting their 2008 vote.
In a recent appearance on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart called Obama out on the reasons for this feeling. He pointed out the messianic appearance that Obama had, the idea that he was going to be the savior of our country’s tanking economy. To my surprise, Stewart told Obama that it was his own fault that he hasn’t lived up to his campaign slogan: change. Or, to be more accurate, positive change. Perhaps the president’s reply is what will hurt him most: “We have done things that some folks don’t even know about.”
Right now, the voting trend has a pattern. Americans get irritated when the party in power doesn’t make speedy changes that automatically fix all the country’s problems. So when elections come around, they vote for the opposite party. Except, they are not really voting for that party so much as voting against the current party. If Obama wants to buck this trend, he has two options.
The first is to remain as far to the left as he is, try to refocus the main issue surrounding the elections and fight hard for reelection in 2012 — like FDR in the 1930s. The other is to move more to the center and ride the winds of the boosted economy, like Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s — except that Obama doesn’t have those winds.
Robert Reich, a writer for RealClearPolitics.com, said that the economy is growing at 2 percent a year. This rate is not enough to shrink the percentage of jobless Americans and give our economy the big shove it needs for Obama to have a good shot at pulling off either of these options. Both former presidents grabbed hold of strong economic-recovery winds by the end of their first terms, and Obama won’t have that.
Based on the way he puts off the complaints of Americans and the states themselves regarding his health care plan, I would say the president is in a bit of denial. He doesn’t want to agree that his plan isn’t right and needs revisions. This will hurt him; Americans feel ignored. And the states are losing money fast. So his best bet is to try to make the main issue of the 2012 election something other than the economy. Because if the situations of Americans like these New Hampshire farmers don’t get better, he will likely not have a chance of winning a second term on the basis of the U.S. economy.
Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School.