It strikes me that the United States has become a more and more desperate place for too many people. We occasionally get some good news---such as the recent reports that things are looking up for General Motors and that the Obama Administration plan to bail out GM and Chrysler has at least put the former automaker back into selling stock. This flies in the face of conservative ideology that all government interference in the marketplace only hurts the "dynamic" market.
But it looks at this point like the bailouts of investment banks and auto companies kept a very bad recession from being much worse--a depression that we haven't seen in seventy years. Still , the unemployment rate is too high and too many Americans are hurting to keep their house, to just find a paying job, to keep payments on a car, or to save some money for their kids' education so they don't have to fight for the Army or Marines in a far-off country just to go to college.
But ultra-conservatism isn't the only problem Americans face. Part of the problem is a general cynicism--the idea that we cannot recover as a nation or as a people, that we are doomed to economic and political destruction in the near future.
Or that we are just too fat or too ignorant or too violent or too greedy or too provincial or whatever. The truth is not to be found in Sarah Palin's "tea party" view of The United States, where buzzwords like "freedom" and "liberty" hide the tough choices we face in the coming decade.
Nor can I say it will be found in the dark humor of television wags like Bill Maher and the continual downbeat pronouncements of documentary film-maker Michael Moore. Yes, these guys are onto something more than the Palins and the Newt Gingrichs and Bill O'Reillys of this media circus.
But mockery is not a plan for the future. And at the end of the day these people who make millions telling us how dysfunctional we are can fly of to another country and leave the rest of us to face the problems they made sport of.
The United States isn't all a land of yahoos nor is it alone in having an unjust society that is in constant need of being monitored. We are five or six percent of the population of the planet. We have the blood of the races and ethnicity of the world here. We have men and women who have done great things for freedom or science or in the arts. We have had good leaders and scoundrels. We as a nation have showed the world a way to a better life through our Constitution and our helping to defeat fascism and stave off Stalinism in Europe. And we have at the same time also failed to live up to our own ideals here and to innocent people who have suffered abroad for the folly of our nationalistic hubris.
We've done all that.
We are just people.