Fear is the basic emotion underlying American life today.
Many (if not most) of us are afraid of losing our incomes and ending up hungry and homeless. And those who have enough money are afraid of the desperation of those who don’t.
And our elected representatives refuse to talk about any of it. Oh, now and then one will talk about hungry children, and lots of them love to talk up crime. But not one of them is willing to tell the truth (if they can see it) about the desperation that increases every week.
Two years ago the Democrats swept the elections with promises of hope and change. Yet today more Americans are unemployed, more Americans are hungry, and more Americans are homeless. And the only alternative the Republicans offer is “No” to everything the Democrats try to do.
So as we move into the November elections, the primary topic is American anger, which, of course, is how most of us express (while we try to hide) our fear. There are ways to create a safety net that’s also a trampoline, so people can get the help they need while learning the necessary skills to bounce back. And there are ways to give people assistance without turning them into slugs, primarily by requiring community service in return for government help.
But as long as the people who run for office, and especially the ones who win, refuse to look clearly at our everyday lives, and as long as they care more about serving themselves than taking care of their constituents, no significant changes will occur.
I tend to be an optimist, but I’ve read enough history (and talked to enough people) to know that a government that refuses to take care of its own people loses its legitimacy. And when that happens chaos rules.