I think it's time for a moratorium. Any politician (someone voted into office or presently running) should be forbidden (or something) from wantonly using the phrase "the American people," as in, "It's perfectly clear what the American people want."
They all use it--left and right, toss it around as if it were David's shepherd-boy slingshot. Here comes one now--"the American people are tired of _____________." (Fill in the blank with your favorite pet peeve.)
The fact is, no one--not even the pollsters--really know what the American people want because not even the American people do. What do the American people think of the Tea Party movement? Well, stand on a city street and grab people's lapels. You'd get a meeting hall of different voices and opinions, most shot from the hip, and at least a dozen would tell you to deposit your question in some available bodily orifice.
The American people are not monolithic, and there is no "the American people." Attack us--as in Pearl Harbor or 9/11--and one angrily arises; but otherwise, we're an Old McDonald's farm, beliefs, opinions, and visions sticking their mangy heads out of every available window and barn door. We're an eighth-rate choir who only rarely carry a tune.
And yet pols say it constantly--"the American people demand," "the American people love," "the American people tell us" as if our collective fingers are tapping out some silly solitary e-mail.
This morning, 49% of the American people think Barack Obama isn't doing the job; 42% do. Okay. But the "the American people" are not of one mind on anything.
Here's what I wish--I wish the American people would collectively bounce, right out of office, those bozos who use that phrase like a mantra or a weapon. Right or left, red or yellow, black or white--tell them all to go home and put a finger on their own pulse.
"The American people?"--sure. But it seems to me that right now, as always in a democracy, where two or three are gathered, someone doesn't agree.
Which is why "the great American experiment" of "government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is still such a immensely fragile thing.