I was born in 1980 and so I didn’t have to live very long through the horribleness that was Jimmy Carter’s presidency. While I don’t have a personal frame of reference to juxtapose that era with our own, I cannot help but think about Carter’s description of the time, malaise, and the conversations I keep having with people here in blue state New York.
Interest rates remain artificially low, back in the 70′s they were extremely high. We are coming off military victory, back then it was perceived defeat. Yet like those times our economy seems to be spiraling out of control. Unemployment is high and the outlook for the near future is grim. Meanwhile the reports of random massacres, brutal assaults and the general sense that we may be headed toward civil unrest, seems to be putting everyone at unease.
It is amazing how casually, when I hear people tick off these bullet points, I hear them say things like “well it is 2012, the world is probably going to end.” It seems to be the modern day “Who is John Galt?” I doubt most people believe there is an impending apocalypse but all too often that is the imagery they paint to describe where we are headed.
These are largely Obama people I am talking of. A few years ago so many of them thought that a new and grand time was upon us. They believed in the new president and that the end of George W. Bush’s presidency would somehow set them free. They now seem disappointed, apathetic and aloof.
Meanwhile I have found it difficult to gauge those I talk to on the right. Their disdain for Obama has only grown and yet, I find it difficult to find anyone who believes Mitt Romney will win. Some are cautiously optimistic but most seem to be dazed. They distrust the media, distrust polls and they also distrust Romney.
Many Democrats have told me they don’t like Obama. They are disappointed and dismayed. They will vote for him anyway. Many Republicans feel the same about Romney and like their counterparts will support the team, if not the man.
That leads us to what could be a standstill, which is where it feels like we are. Everyone agrees the world as we know it isn’t working. We don’t agree how to get it fixed.
What we share, it seems, is a growing sense that things aren’t going to get better. We have a growing distrust toward one another and a sense that people are going off the deep end. Prosperity seems to be leaving us and with it a sense of control. It seems like malaise has returned to our nation.