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Like many right-of-center Americans, I fell into a months-long funk when Barack Obama was re-elected. I understood voting for a charismatic cipher in 2008 after years of war, scandal, and a financial collapse. It would have been hard for a Democrat not to win, especially with the cheerleading of newsrooms and popular culture.
But 2012 was a different matter altogether. The voters knew who Obama was. They lived through four years of economic stagnation, failed foreign policy, and the callow dilettante presiding over both. They saw the backroom deals and the trillion wasted on a fictitious stimulus, but the American people didn’t care. They agreed with Mitt Romney on nearly every issue, but Obama made failure look cool. They applauded American decline and signed on for another four years.
Week by week, I slowly got over my 2012 fatalism. I focused on the small victories conservatives could win in the states and school boards. I saw a rising tide of right-leaning problem solvers in governors’ mansions and statehouses. And despite the bad rap many millennials get, I met so many young people who got it. My inherent optimism slowly returned.
But Thursday, Bush-appointed Chief Justice Roberts decided for a second time that the economic and moral garbage fire known as Obamacare be rubber-stamped — the law and the English language be damned. The American people will continue to suffer under this monstrosity (my family lost our plan) while liars like Gruber, Pelosi — and yes, Obama — give high fives and cash bigger checks. The bad guys won again and fatalism is hard to fight.
The U.S. has spent six years tossing matches at the Middle East powder keg, encouraging petty expansionists like Putin, and almost begging China to replace us as hegemon. Our national debt is higher than our gross domestic product and politicians from both parties demand we spend more. Beijing has stolen the most personal of information from 18 million federal employees and Washington insists we hand them our medical records as well.
It’s hard for freedom-loving Americans not to be fatalistic. To declare America over and seek greener pastures or just drop off the grid. Personally, I can’t run to a virtual Galt’s Gulch since my kids and other younger generations need me to at least try to stop the slide if not reverse it. So I remind myself of the times America faced tougher trials: the world wars, our nation’s founding, and the fight between the Union and the Confederates (if I’m still allowed to use that trigger word).
Despite the multiple crises, our betters are screeching about utter nonsense. Whether a flag should be displayed in an iPhone game, whether people can choose their race and gender, if old ladies should be publicly flayed or just put out of business for not baking a cake.
Eventually the electorate will come to its senses — I mean, they have to, right? As Glenn Reynolds often says, “what cannot continue, won’t.” But what cataclysm will it take to shake us out of our navel-gazing, microaggressed, Brawndo-swilling stupor?
An even worse financial collapse than in 2008 with no borrowed money left to rescue the banks? A deadlier act of war than 9-11? And if either happens, God forbid, will Americans just use the moment to blame each other in even uglier terms?
My ultimate hope, as a Christian, is knowing that God is in control. Being a student of history, I know that cultures have endured far worse calamities than our comfortable decline. But I want to know how you keep your hopes up. Fatalism will never win hearts and minds, let alone elections, so do you have advice on keeping political setbacks from dragging you into despond?
Maybe you take a break from the news (this website excepted, of course). Do you hug your kids more? Slam three shots of bourbon? I’d rather be a Reagan than an Eeyore, so let me know in the comments.