A poll of 1,504 adult Americans taken nationwide earlier this month (Oct. 9-13) by the respected Pew Research Center found that just 14 percent of us are satisfied with “the way things are going in this country today.”
At about the same time, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found similarly that only 14 percent of U.S. adults feel that “things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction.”
Yes, things have been bad for some time now, but lately they are getting absolutely, positively worse.
Let’s be honest — if we saw these sorts of numbers in a developing nation or Third World country, we’d be thinking that regime change or worse lies ahead. Numbers like these signal that a governmental collapse, military coup, civil war or worse could be in the offing.
The most interesting aspect of this situation is that the sentiment of pessimism afoot in America today seems to be generating more discouragement and withdrawal than anger and rage.
Sure, there is some populist furor to be found out there in a few spots, but nobody is turning over cop cars, staging mass confrontations or forming a serious resistance movement.
It is as if we have given up and are allowing events to have their way with us. Russians, Greeks, Egyptians and other Middle Easterners are showing more spunk than most Americans when it comes to expressing dissatisfaction with the current regime.
One of the problems in mounting resistance is that there’s no leadership for regime change.
By “regime,” I’m not referring narrowly to the Obama administration. I am speaking of the larger bipartisan Republicrat regime that rules in D.C. these days.
People evidently refuse to believe that either party really offers a happy ending for the malaise afflicting us. And there are no Ross Perots or other major “third way” leaders out there offering an alternative that has any viability to offer hope to the hopeless.
So we retreat from bad news, sulking back to our hobbit holes in a depressed mood, only uttering a discouraged word when the Pew pollsters call.
We’ve had bad times before in this country, but this reminds me most of the 1970s, when it seemed that things just didn’t work. There is no specific, singular enemy today. There’s no al Qaeda, murder rate, inflation rate, Berlin Wall, OPEC, segregation or theater war to focus upon for the change we need.
The problem now is more systemic and frustrating.
Suppose that someone wanted to change all this, even if that someone is the insider establishment and leadership clique that has created much of the problem. Could that someone succeed in changing the nation’s mood?
And what would he or she have to do to get us thinking that we’re pointed in a new and better direction? The key would be establishing a more clearly defined sense of stability in some specific areas of life. Americans need to have a more profound feeling of constancy and permanence we can count on going forward.
In what areas, you ask? The most important would be economic. We need steady employment, stable interest rates, a stock market free of “flash crashes,” freedom from the fear of inflation, steady home appreciation, spike-free fuel costs and checks on runaway college costs.
Those changes alone would engender much more positive thinking about the regime. In the political realm, if Congress would just adjourn and stop tinkering with the spheres of healthcare, taxes, immigration and so forth, allowing the American people and the states to figure out a way to cope given the status quo in most policies, we’d figure it out without Washington’s help.
We’d cope and find a way forward on our own.
Hill is a pollster who has worked for Republican campaigns and causes since 1984.