I hear all the time that this election is about bringing change to our country. While that sounds pretty good for some folks, especially those who feel like they’ve somehow ended up with the short end of the stick, I want to speak a word of caution:
Be careful what you wish for.
You may get something in the bargain that you could never foresee and find yourself looking back at these past few years with fond recollections and a bit of nostalgia.
First of all, what is so absolutely awful that we need to change everything? Where is this hellscape that America has become? You know, the one Donald Trump so often points to in his rants on the campaign trail, the one where you get shot the moment you set foot out in the street? I live in an area that is not booming economically and has one of the higher crime rates in NY state but it certainly doesn’t feel much different than it did in decades past.
Despite the claims and misrepresentations of Donald Trump, violent crime and murder are at the lowest rates since the early 1960’s.
The stock market in the month or so after Barack Obama came into office was down to around 6500. It now stands at over 18000. If you have a 401k for your retirement, your investments have no doubt grown appreciably.
Unemployment was around 10%. It is now under 5% and real wages are actually rising. The demand for labor is now exceeding supply. Plain and simple: We don’t have the people needed to fill the good jobs that are open now. Even in my area with an economy that often underperforms on a state and national level, a large CVS warehouse/distribution center has turned to running television ads looking for 60 new employees with starting wages from $12-15/hour. You would think there would be lines of people waiting to fill these jobs.
Interest rates are still near historic lows and the housing market is strengthening as we move away from the horror story of the Great Recession.
Gas prices have remained relatively low and we are closer to energy independence than ever before. The USA is the largest producer of oil in the world and we are adding huge chunks of solar and wind capacity every year.
More people have health insurance than ever before with fewer people with chronic conditions being denied coverage or being forced into medical bankruptcies. You’re probably thinking about the reported rate increases at this point. Let me tell you, being self-employed, I have been buying my own health insurance for many years now and long before the ACA, rate increases such as these were the norm. Obamacare or not, you are going to pay a steep price for health insurance until there is some sort of comprehensive reform that encompasses the whole of the medical, health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
There are many other ways in which we are not doing so badly after all despite what Fox News tells us. Perhaps we don’t need to burn the whole thing down after all. Maybe we need to affect change in our own perceptions of the world and our reactions to it. Say , for instance, that we looked at the positive job growth that has been taking place for the past 80 months or so as a good thing, something to build on, instead of perceiving it through partisan goggles as just not being good enough.
Maybe if we stop giving in to fears and those who try to play on them, those who try to push wedges between us. Maybe if we pay a little more attention to the world outside our little spheres of self, we would see beyond partisan opinion and see truth wherever it might be in whatever form it might come.
The general situation of this country has been much, much worse in my lifetime. Okay, there are problems in this country that have to be addressed. There always have been and there always will be problems. To think otherwise is foolish. But there is nothing so terrible that we can’t figure it out if we work together.
That has always been our answer as a nation when faced with adversity in the past– we work past the obstacle before us and on to the next.
And that is why, despite what conservatives might claim, we are a progressive nation. We have never settled for what might be good enough in the present. We always strive for better. We only look back in time for guidance in moving forward– not as a place to which we can return.
So, don’t let me down– get out there and vote. Vote for a future that takes what we have built as a nation and moves forward. Please don’t vote for stagnancy and obstruction. Vote for people that want to help us all move ahead, that don’t want to return to a past that is long gone because of a fear of the future.
The future is what we make it.
Okay, for this Sunday’s musical selection I have a Beatles double-header. First, there is Don’t Let Me Down followed by Revolution. Have a great Sunday and when you’re listening to Revolution, remember: Be careful what you wish for.