If you happen to be in an area where people mingle, you find out they are worried. War, the economy, layoffs, higher living costs and health care are major concerns.
Facing all these challenges, people wonder what happened to all the adulation voters had for President Obama when his term began. Wasn't his approval rating then about 70 percent and isn't it reduced considerably now?
The bailout, stimulus and health care reform, plus the lack of great success in these areas, has eroded public confidence in the president. Voters fear he has taken on too much and added too much to the national debt.
Currently health care reform is a major topic of conversation. Some allege town hall meetings have been stacked, but average Americans resent being accused of being unAmerican for expressing their opinions at these public forums. At least 50 percent of the people attending may be satisfied with the health care they have and do not want to have their benefits reduced.
Voters are confused. Too many bills, too many proposals, no single voice explaining just what changes are proposed. Where are the funds coming from to pay for the reform? At what price to seniors, veterans and people with serious medical problems? Will illegal immigrants be provided benefits?
These are but a few of the unanswered questions. People feel change is being shoved down their throats by legislators who may vote for a bill they did not read. Haste means public debate is placed on the back burner by power-hungry politicians catering to special interests. Some special interest groups are well entrenched and often not focused on the needs of society.
So, as we mingle among our friends, the debate goes on. We would like to think our views might be welcome and even of some value to legislators who feel some kind of change is desirable.
As perplexed as we are, perhaps the president will share our discomfort and clear the air by taking a more active role in offering solutions and calming those who are scared and confused. So far, he has been distanced from the legislative process. He could make a stronger argument for his proposals.
There are many participants in health care and trying to please everyone is difficult. We face a great challenge and tough choices. Reform should include everyone and debate should be encouraged. We assume the president is hearing the message of the people. He is trying harder to get a grip on the health care debate and will soon address a joint session of Congress. He may have done so before this column goes to press.
Following this address, maybe we can all learn if there is or is not a plan to pull the plug on our elders.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.