Buck Party

Responses to President Obama’s call to “buck up” define the Democratic mood.

President Barack Obama

Yesterday I asked what readers thought of President Obama’s call to Democrats to “buck up,” from a recent Rolling Stone interview. Lots of you responded. (This sidebar has the raw—in some cases, quite raw—responses.)

I asked Georgetown University linguistics professor Deborah Tannen what she thought of the president and Vice President Joe Biden’s use of the phrase. “The president and Vice President are frustrated (surprise!) that the administration’s accomplishments are being overlooked as progressives and Democrats focus on what they did not get,” she wrote. ” ‘Buck up’ acknowledges disappointment—people are asked to ‘buck up’ under adversity—but also indirectly (by implication) admonishes the addressees for being lily-livered and self-pitying, and kind of challenges them to draw on their inner strength (a perhaps masculine-inflected inner strength) to muster their resources and continue the struggle.”


The president’s remarks were aimed at closing what Gallup shows to be a vast enthusiasm gap between the two parties. But your reactions were mixed, suggesting the challenge he faces. Based on the more than 2,000 responses to my previous story, it is possible to develop a taxonomy of Democratic voters by the way you interpreted the president’s call to buck up. Herewith, including examples:

Motivated by Obama: “Amen!”
Motivated by the alternative
: “Republican party and tea party are not serious about governing.”
: “Suck it up Dems. Did you really expect everything to be fixed in a mere *2* years?!”
: “Realize that you are fighting an entrenched status quo that will stop at nothing to regain power.”
: “Obama is right Progressives are too feckless.”
: “Agree, health care and financial reform have been good, but the problem: Have to let people know!”
: “Being busy is no excuse, phone bank!”
: “Being a citizen is hard work! It takes dedication to constantly create a nation we want to live in.”
: “First person to put that on a $15 baby blue t shirt with a bucking donkey above it wins!”
“For those who think the President has not done enough, ask your self, what could I have done.”
: “Bend over.”
Angry but still voting
: “Buck off. I will vote, but at some point the rest is up to you.”
Just angry
: “No public option, no ENDA, no DADT, and deadlines you set then didnt enforce. Buck up for what?”
Angry sarcasm
: “Puleeeeez! You make a great speech… every 2 years.”
Nuclear-strength anger:
“Fuck off, you sold out our civil liberties and listened to the weakest people in your administration.”

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