A new survey finds 53-percent of Americans believe our country's best days are behind her. Only 31-percent believe America will be a better place in the future. That is a record level of pessimism infecting the populace. I'm guessing this poll was not conducted during the dark days of the Civil War, the Depression, World War Two or the Disco Era--or these would not be the lowest levels of optimism on record.
Yes, this is certainly not one of our better periods--but things right now aren't nearly as bad as they were in the eras I mentioned before. There is no concern about the country being irreparably torn apart, unemployment isn't over twenty percent, there are no bread lines, we aren't under the very real threat of fascism taking over the world, we don't have to line up to buy gas and the Village People aren't cultural icons.
America's prosperity--like that of each individual citizen--is cyclical. The Civil War and Reconstruction was followed by dawn of the American Century--as Teddy Roosevelt ushered the US to the lead in the Industrial Revolution and brought us to the status of global superpower. The Depression and World War Two was followed by the Baby Boom as Ike led us to unprecedented economic growth and the Greatest Generation built the modern American economy. And of course, Ronald Reagan's Morning in America spawned the longest sustained period of economic growth in the nation's history.
Will the better days ahead be easy to achieve? Probably not, many of the economic factors in play during our previous downturns don't exist this time around. We don't have the domestic production facilities sitting idle just waiting for demand to increase, people aren't flush with money accumulated during a period when there was nothing to buy, we don't have double digit interest rates to drop to stimulate the economy, and we really can't afford big tax cuts to put more money in people's pockets.
Despite these challenges, we Americans will figure out how to get out of the hole. We will realize that getting out of debt will allow us to have all the nice things we think we deserve--we just have to wait a little bit to get them. We will realize that the Government can't solve every single problem we face. And we will recapture the self-reliant, "I control my own destiny" attitude that has led America to more "Good Old Days" than any other country on the face of the Earth.
I'm confident there are better days to come. In fact, I think they are probably just 633 days away.