My worlds just collided. One of my favorite columnists at ESPN is the author of Tuesday Morning Quarterback over on their Page 2, Gregg Easterbrook. Am I the only one that didn't know that he is a member of the Brookings Institute, a contributing editor to The New Republic and The Atlantic Monthly, and a editorial contributor to the Wall Street Journal, and author of a book called "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse"?
I guess I shouldn't have stopped reading when I got to the "In addition to writing TMQ…" part.
With that out of the way, the WSJ OpEd piece is interesting to me, because over the years I've clearly fallen into a doom and gloom, the world is going to hell in a hand basket rut. This OpEd piece was a nice pick-me-up this morning. The premise?
At a time when there exists a sense of crisis over the economy, fuel prices and many other issues, this reinforces the odd, two realities of life in the United States today: The way we are, and the way we think we are. The way we are could use some work, but overall, is pretty good. The way we think we are is terrible, horrible, awful. Possibly worse.
The conclusion for what causes this dichotomy?
The relentlessly negative impressions of American life presented by the media, including the entertainment media, explain something otherwise puzzling that shows up in psychological data. When asked about the country's economy, schools, health care or community spirit, Americans tell pollsters the situation is dreadful. But when asked about their own jobs, schools, doctors and communities, people tell pollsters the situation is good. Our impressions of ourselves and our neighbors come from personal experience. Our impressions of the nation as a whole come from the media and from political blather, which both exaggerate the negative.
The latter has never been thicker. Democrats insist Republicans are ruining domestic policy, Republicans insist Democrats are ruining foreign policy. Neither claim is true, but both reflect what we've been conditioned to believe: that America is in much worse circumstances than it actually is.
I never really thought about it, but he's right. I rarely have complaints about our local school because I have a sense of the realities that it's facing, and I have a personal view of how the Administrators are improving things. I don't have any complaints about my doctors, or the health care that my family receives. My job seems relatively stable and secure. But at the same time, I view all of those things as substantial national problems.
I've been wondering for months now, how much of the "the Economy is in shambles!!" sentiment is the result of a perception created in order to give the Democrats an issue in this election to counter the Republicans usual strength on National Security? Surely St. Obama wouldn't help foster this just to get elected, would he?
On a side note, I am *seriously* getting pushed back into my "disgusted with both parties and candidates so I am going to stay at home and not vote" camp. If I read another article about this tit-for-tat complaining about every conceivable misdeed of every possible person connected in any possible way to either campaign, followed by the obligatory resignation of said person – I am going to lose it. Oh, and if I see another press release from the McCain camp complaining about some Obama camp nonsense, followed by a smarmy "That's not 'Change We Can Believe In'", I'm going to do very bad things.
Both of these clowns have talked about running different kinds of campaigns. Start walking the walk. This petty BS is enraging.