We all remember the quote nearly by heart, don't we?
"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
And if you forgot it, there it is. Along with it is that offended feeling you got when you first heard or saw the quote. If this is your first time, then you are looking at a quote from the President of the United States, and that offended feeling you now have is completely justifiable. The president arrogantly dismissed his critics in a broad and flagrantly wrong generalization. The feelings he is misinterpreting, feelings that represent a major portion of the country he serves, are conservative feelings. Perhaps it should not offend us so much, given that we know how he reacts to criticism - those who criticize him are inferior. It's in his nature to react in such a way.
However, the real "bitter clingers" in this country are not those of us who have a particularly strong faith or believe in the rights granted to us by the Constitution. It's not the folks who believe immigrants should become a part of our country legally. No, the real "bitter clingers" are those who greatly fear losing power. Barack Obama is a good example of that. He strives to cement a legacy at the cost of actually governing. He campaigns on his ideas, despite them failing horrible in execution, and alienates opponents with inflammatory rhetoric.
Or, how about the bitter clingers on our own side? Take Orrin Hatch, for example.
On Tuesday, 79-year old Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), now serving his seventh term in the Senate, signaled that he and other members of the Republican establishment are likely to encourage a primary challenge to first term Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).
The senior senator from Utah is not pleased with his colleague. As a result, Hatch and the Gang (coming to Bravo this Spring!) intend to pull something of a reverse "Tea Party" and primary him out of the seat. His crime? He fought Obamacare, doing exactly what his state elected him to do. An unfortunate side effect (for Hatch and his ilk) was that it exposed them as the kind of men who wouldn't try to keep their campaign promises.
And not just him, either. The bitter clingers in the DC Establishment (Democratic and Republican) are terrified of grassroots movements. When public opinion shifts dramatically, as it has against them, grassroots movements grow. Ted Cruz was exactly right when he told Des Moines voters that this is a brave new world.
The era that we now live in has brought the proliferation of social media, which in and of itself doesn't seem like much, but what it symbolizes is something far greater: there is a new level of communication, a more direct level, that allows for instantaneous transfer of ideas, thoughts and, importantly with regard to this subject, organization.
Twitter, Facebook (though I have a personal rule about posting politics on Facebook), blogging, and more options in e-mailing and instant messaging leave us with the ability to quickly get, interpret and even break news online. It allows us to instantly share with others, both with and against us, what we think needs to be done. And when enough of those people come together, then you have a grassroots movement.
It is that, ultimately, that frightens the Establishment (which I capitalize because I hope it will be the next group of villains in a WWE plot). Money is important in any election, but it is no longer just big money from wealthy activists and Wall Street. Now, more than ever, we can put our own money together and fund a candidate who has not been corrupted by the insider politics of Washington D.C.
Hatch, McConnell and other Republicans are on high alert now, suddenly caught with a fear they've never felt before. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. They are bitterly clinging to their seats in the hope that their constituency doesn't come and take it away from them. And they absolutely despise grassroots conservatives for it.