What’s on the mind of metro DC area voters after the midterm elections? Some of the sentiment expressed by voters interviewed in overwhelmingly Democratic Montgomery County is surprising.
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Employment was the number one issue identified as requiring government attention, despite Montgomery County’s low 5.5 percent rate, little more than half the national average.
Donovan Compton, an unemployed receptionist/pedicurist/masseur from Silver Spring, Md. considers the job crisis the number one priority. He is a dual American-Russian citizen and says he should get a job before the people coming across the border illegally. To foster that goal he believes that the U.S. should “strengthen our borders to the max.”
“If the Germans could build the Berlin Wall to keep people out and keep people in,” he said, “there’s no reason we can’t do it here.”
Warehouse assistant Glenn Curtis who lives in DC and works in Maryland agrees that employment should be the 112th Congress’ “most pressing issue,” noting that “job loss caused a lot of people to lose their homes.”
A new sense of fiscal responsibility on the government’s part has shut down funding sources for small business, causing a lot of them to fail, according to Alan Wagner, a lab technician from Washington, DC employed in Montgomery County. Wagner also thinks employment must be a top priority for the government in the wake of the midterm elections.
Opinions on the prospects for continued Congressional gridlock were split. Nancy Miller, a Columbia, Md., academic advisor and former Federal manager, fears that “the introduction of tea party candidates into Congress is likely to amp up the discord.”
But lab tech Robert Creech disagrees. He thinks predictions of gridlock are overstated.
“I think people want to make it into a big story,” he said. ” Our country is not going to go to Hell in a hand basket overnight.”
Creech thinks the effect of tea party members being elected is a “big blown up news sensation” without real substance. He called the tea party “the funny new thing that’s out” that people like to talk about, and said its actual membership is not substantial.
He is confident that Congress members will do their best and will start to cooperate when the new term begins.
Republican, Democrat or Tea party affiliation doesn’t matter, according to Theresa Fofung, a nurse from Laurel, Md. Fofung said the critical issue for Congress is having human feelings, that too many people are concerned about themselves rather than helping the middle class- which she says constitutes the majority of the country. Fofung wants to see an infusion of religion into the country’s institutions to foster ethical conduct.
Besides employment, the government should make healthcare a top priority, according to Compton, who says lower co-pays are needed.
Global warming is the issue Miller would give highest priority. She says she worries a lot about the environment being left to her children and her children’s children.
Whatever happens in Congress during the next two years, will Obama recover from his party’s midterm losses and claim a second term? Curtis doesn’t think so. But Wagner says the midterms are unlikely to affect Obama’s re-election prospects.
For his part, Compton doesn’t feel Obama has lived up to his promise of change and he “would like a President who does what he says he’s going to do.”
It’s Republicans with money voters should keep their eye on during the next Congress, says Curtis. They’re the ones with the means to create jobs.
Miller is keeping her eye on one specific Republican but not because she expects him to create jobs. Newly elected tea party Republican Rand Paul is “the scariest of the Tea Party group,” Miller says. She described Paul as having a “sanctimonious, I-have-all-the-answers vibe that does not seem likely to lead to compromise, reasonableness, or harmony in the U.S. Senate.”