Americans are in a funk. Bill Clinton mentioned it in passing when describing the mood of the country in the mid 1990s and I believe that’s the case today.
When Clinton described the national mood almost 20 years ago, Americans were frustrated that their 401K plans were not growing more rapidly, and some people were feeling left behind during the dot.com boom. Ahh, those were the days weren’t they?
I suppose that on the heels of the Great Recession, that still finds many roughly 14 million people out of work and millions more barely making ends meet, it would be totally acceptable for Americans to be more pessimistic, less hopeful about the future.
After all, almost every time we turn on the television set we are hearing more about the economic crisis that is crippling Europe, the roller coaster of a ride of the stock market and the increasingly inability of Congress to agree on anything let alone a bipartisan policy initiative to get us out of debt and to fix the entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security that we hope to enjoy as we advance into senior citizenship.
I also suppose that despite all of the pessimism that I just mentioned and the many more that I did not mention, Americans have every right to be in a funk. I agree — but only to a point.
Let me explain why: To be clear, people who have no paycheck, no hope for a paycheck, and no way of getting out of the mess that they’re in through no fault of their own, have of every right to be frustrated and angry. Frustrated that fate has handed them such a terrible blow and angry that our elected officials, vis a vis their government, are not doing more to assist them. On this point, Americans have every right to demand more of their government and to vote incumbents out if they feel that their elected officials are not representing their best interests.
I do think however that now is the time for us as Americans to do our part in lifting ourselves out of this funk. Let the politicians bicker, fight and duke it out on Capitol Hill. We can’t control their actions, but we can control ours in our intangible, extraordinary, immeasurable way — through our own will and perseverance and yes, even sometimes by pushing the government out of the way (meaning when we feel the government is not doing enough and was behind the times like during the Civil Rights Movement).
We’ve always been an optimistic and forward looking people because we have relied on our own can-do spirit and our singular belief of success and liberty in ourselves and not on any material or governmental institution. American exceptionalism is not dead. In fact, it’s still thriving. I believe that’s the reason why the top universities in the world are still here in America, and sadly, why Europe and even the Middle East look to America for monetary and foreign policy leadership.
I also believe that America is still an incubator for ideas and innovation. Google, Apple, Hewlett Packard and other technology-driven companies may outsource to places in India and China, but the creation of those ideas and the ability to promote and foster those ideas still originate right here, in our country.
Despite all of this bad economic and social news, we have a lot to be thankful for and even more to look forward to.
I believe strongly and passionately that this country will get back on track. I believe that the path will come sooner rather than later, and I also believe that this country will once again rise from bended knee, stronger and more prosperous than we currently know it.
And I guarantee you, this new America that we do not yet see, will not be because of the sudden bipartisanship of Capitol Hill, but by the genuine uniqueness and entrepreneurial spirit of people just like you.