A recent national poll indicated that 54 percent of Americans have a gloomy outlook for the future. It’s easy to see why, but I remain an optimist. One reason why I am optimistic about the future is that the dysfunctional momentum of the past 30 years in our public arena seem to have reached a crescendo.
I guess this is a sort of an “it’s always darkest before the dawn” rationale, but I sense that it has gotten so bad in D.C. that the weight of the dysfunction has finally broken through our collective sense of denial. When Reagan issued his famous declaration that “the problem IS the government” it began a very destructive slide into irrelevancy (or at least ineffectiveness) for government.
The Clinton Presidency was an illusory relief to the hard years of Reagan and the Bushes. I say illusory because the brief prosperity of the Clinton years came at the cost of losing social mobility for most Americans. Big banks were given free reign when Clinton abandoned regulation, and we all know the result.
Since that malignant conservative notion took root in electoral politics, virtually every important problem facing society has been ignored and gotten worse. Gun violence, poverty, shrinking incomes, unemployment, access to education, crumbling infrastructure, climate change … the list of worsening problems can go on for a while.
The lesson I derive from our recent experiment with conservatism is that Government (good governance) is the ONLY solution to the problems we have. The government is the only social structure that has enough resources to respond on the scale we need to in order to improve our society (see FDR and the “New Deal”).
In this sense, I think the rumblings of discontent are an omen of good things to come. Historically, massive social change usually only occurs after the discontent of the masses reaches a critical point and forces institutions to change or be destroyed. Maybe Congress is facing that choice now.