Summertime is festival time in the First Congressional District. Every weekend there are three to six of them -- most of them Catholic Church/School connected -- all of them fun. There are also German festivals like Schutzenfest, Donauschwaben, and Germania, to name a few. They're great too. The festivals generally are held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and are especially crowded during the evening when the temperatures start to cool down.
I've been attending festivals since my City Council days. I first ran in 1979, so we're going back 30 plus years. And if you consider my student days at Holy Family school in Price Hill, and then St. Catharine's in Westwood, we're going back 50 plus years. That's a long time.
As a candidate running for public office, I particularly like attending festivals, because it gives me the opportunity to talk with lots of people about anything on their minds. Most people are very friendly, but are not shy about telling me what they really think. Here's what I'm hearing this year.
People are very worried about the direction of the country. They think spending in Washington is completely out of control. The rising debt is of particular concern. Right now they principally blame President Obama and the Democrats controlling Congress for the wasteful spending, but they also think President Bush and Republican Congresses should have been more restrained in spending when they were in charge -- and they're right. (Fortunately, most people will say something along the lines of "We know you were one of the guys fighting against the spending when you were there, but we hope if Republicans take control again, you guys will get it right next time.")
People also think the Stimulus Package was just a big waste of money. They say the economy is still lousy, and if they haven't lost their own job, they have family members or close friends who have.
People still hate the health care bill -- or Obamacare, as many of them refer to it. They are particularly negative about Steve Driehaus on this issue. Not just that he voted for it, but that he led us to believe he'd vote against it, then voted for it anyway. And I haven't come across a person yet who buys that President Obama's Executive Order does anything to stop their tax dollars from going to pay for abortions. And that particularly incenses people.
I'll occasionally get comments or questions about Afghanistan, legalizing marijuana, the Over-the-Rhine streetcar plan, and just about anything else that might be on peoples' minds. But mostly, it's the out-of-control spending, the lousy economy, the huge government debt, and Obamacare.
And maybe it's just because they're talking to me, but the overwhelming majority of people say they were terribly disappointed when I lost last time, and can't wait to get rid of Steve Driehaus this upcoming election. Maybe he's hearing the same thing, but I doubt it.
The feedback I'm getting at the festivals this year reinforces my belief that this election year is likely to be a really big deal. People don't like what's going on in Washington, and they're likely to vote for change -- big time. They can't vote directly for or against President Obama this year, but they sure can vote up or down on this Administration's, and especially on this Congress's policies. And the people more likely to turn out this year, for the most part, don't like these policies.
In conclusion, festivals can be a lot of fun. And you can learn a lot there too.