Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I Am Appalled at the Pessimism

 

Apparently, to be conservative means to ever believe that the best Americans are all dead. It is to believe that America’s best days are behind her, that the left has won, and that this current crisis will be what does in the Republic.

America will rise to this crisis. Our President is doing what presidents do in a crisis like this. Our Republic always stumbles out of the gate, and then we rally. In 1941, Americans did not know that they would win the war, they knew the war was thrust upon them. The shouldered on.

During the Great Depression Americans shouldered on. Because of that, I am an optimist on America.

During WWI, Americans rallied. Because of that, I am an optimist on America.

During our greatest crisis, the Civil War, Americans managed to keep faith and reforge the nation. Because of that, I am an optimist on America.

I spent my childhood in the ’70s listening to people tell me how America was over. We were in decline, and that was how it was going to be. If we were lucky, the USSR and the USA would not nuke each other. Movies were about sliding into decay, about the end of the world, about how we were losers. Well, in 1981, things changed. And I saw a great decade where I came of age. Because of that, I am an optimist on America.

I think we should remember the sunny optimism of our greatest conservative President:

And failing that, how about these great words:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”

These are trying times. I will not be a Tory, nor will I carp about at the hard choices being made against generals fighting the war now. There will be time for recriminations later. Right now, I think Trump is plotting the best path forward.

This is not the worst thing America has ever been through.

Let’s not panic.

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  1. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: I am appalled at the pessimism

    I am, too, Bryan, I am, too! It’s Ameri-CAN not Ameri-CAN’T!

    • #1
    • March 31, 2020, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. repmodad Coolidge

    You’re right. Others have made the point that I believe with all my heart: the same unruly and independent national character that makes us particularly bad at adhering to quarantines and lockdowns will help us lead the world’s recovery out of this when the time comes. Not only will we rally, but we’ll rally the free world. 

    • #2
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:25 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m with ya, boss man.

    • #3
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:26 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: Let’s not panic. 

    I agree but lets not forget . . . WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

    • #4
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:35 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Hear! Hear!

    Entirely with you.

    • #5
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:53 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Steven Seward Member

    I have been struck by how many, but not most, Conservatives have been taken in by the dooms-day rhetoric. I see it as the left-wing Press mounting a surprise Bonzai Attack on everyone’s psyche with this all-out bombardment of negative news and ridiculous hyperbolic predictions. It takes a strong person to weather such an overwhelming atmosphere of gloom, and I’m sure most Americans will eventually step up and conquer the Dragon.

    • #6
    • March 31, 2020, at 3:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Henry Castaigne Member

    Even if a third of the country dies, (a very extreme example) the remaining two thirds of America will carry on,

    • #7
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:30 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Steven Seward Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Even if a third of the country dies, (a very extreme example) the remaining two thirds of America will carry on,

    That’s reassuring!?

    • #8
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:37 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Even if a third of the country dies, (a very extreme example) the remaining two thirds of America will carry on,

    That’s reassuring!?

    We call him Sunshine.

    • #9
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  10. Dave of Barsham Member

    Bryan G. Stephens: Our Republic always stumbles out of the gate

    Yep, American S.O.P.

    • #10
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. E. Kent Golding Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: Let’s not panic.

    I agree but lets not forget . . . WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

    Yes, eventually. There is actually some comfort in that. The key parts are faith in God and trying to leave something better with more freedom.

    • #11
    • March 31, 2020, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. TC Chef Coolidge

    Amen brother. 

    • #12
    • March 31, 2020, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. NoKnothing Coolidge

    I don’t know about pessimism but how about being pissed off?

    Pissed that we have run our economy into a ditch

    Pissed that we’ve just doled out well over $2T in a vainglorious attempt to resuscitate it

    Pissed that they are already working on the next $2T in “stimulus”

    • #13
    • March 31, 2020, at 8:35 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. James Lileks Contributor

    The quantity of pessimism seems directly related to one’s proximity to the official apparatus of power multiplied by one’s inability to affect the course of events. Pundits have no use. People who make a tidy living carping from the sidelines, and confused their role as equal to the team’s coach, are stripped of the illusion that the players on the field are heeding their advice. 

    What’s instructive, and ought not to be forgotten afterwards, are those who decided to opt for pessimism and make it their brand. This is who they always were. Small souls daubed with pitch.

    • #14
    • March 31, 2020, at 10:04 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    repmodad (View Comment):

    You’re right. Others have made the point that I believe with all my heart: the same unruly and independent national character that makes us particularly bad at adhering to quarantines and lockdowns will help us lead the world’s recovery out of this when the time comes. Not only will we rally, but we’ll rally the free world.

    That is something I believe in strongly! 

    • #15
    • April 1, 2020, at 4:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    I have been struck by how many, but not most, Conservatives have been taken in by the dooms-day rhetoric. I see it as the left-wing Press mounting a surprise Bonzai Attack on everyone’s psyche with this all-out bombardment of negative news and ridiculous hyperbolic predictions. It takes a strong person to weather such an overwhelming atmosphere of gloom, and I’m sure most Americans will eventually step up and conquer the Dragon.

    We have conquered far worse!

    • #16
    • April 1, 2020, at 4:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    The quantity of pessimism seems directly related to one’s proximity to the official apparatus of power multiplied by one’s inability to affect the course of events. Pundits have no use. People who make a tidy living carping from the sidelines, and confused their role as equal to the team’s coach, are stripped of the illusion that the players on the field are heeding their advice.

    What’s instructive, and ought not to be forgotten afterwards, are those who decided to opt for pessimism and make it their brand. This is who they always were. Small souls daubed with pitch.

    Yes! Ben Shaperio had a vid where he opens with saying a version of “People like me cannot do anything, where do you pundits get off on going after the My Pillow Guy?”.

    Small souls indeed! 

    • #17
    • April 1, 2020, at 4:56 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. J Climacus Member

    Instead of being optimists or pessimists, how about being realists?

    The reality is that, unlike WW2, we are going into the COVID-19 crisis already massively in debt at levels not seen since the 1940’s (in terms of debt to GDP). We already have ongoing trillion dollar deficits. And we didn’t start WW2 by bailing out poorly managed companies who spent their available cash buying back their own stock to goose stock prices and management bonuses. Nor did we start the war by mailing checks to everyone in the country. Instead, the people bought war bonds to send money to the government. They understood then that the government has no wealth of its own, and that any spending it does is only financed by extracting wealth from the people, voluntarily or otherwise. In the case of WW2 they chose to sacrifice for the good of the nation by buying war bonds (i.e. loaning the government money).

    The real crisis we face is of our own making: The debt monster we have been feeding for 40 years is finally becoming too big to handle and is about to devour us. Instead of facing that, we are doubling down on money printing and debt – exactly the things that got us in this trouble in the first place. We are likely facing a $4 trillion dollar deficit this year, financed by the Federal Reserve putting the printing presses on overdrive. And we aren’t getting dozens of aircraft carriers or thousands of B17s for that money: Just staving off the inevitable a little longer and making everything worse. Eventually we will figure out that the cure to debt is not more debt.

    If Trump were honest with us, he’d say: “There can be no bailouts. The days of bailouts and handouts are over. We are $23 trillion dollars in debt and have no money to give you. Any checks we sent you could only be financed by taking money from someone else, or printing it up at the Federal Reserve, which will in the end only lower the purchasing power of the dollars you already have. We must stop lying about this.” Instead, we have the Federal Reserve buying anything and everything it can, toxic mortgage debt, municipal bonds, corporate debt, whatever, and soon probably the stock market. This isn’t any defense of freedom, it’s the beginning stages of fascism.

    Now we can be optimistic or pessimistic about those facts as we choose. Pessimistically, we are in for some very bad times as the debt bubble explodes and (probably) the dollar loses most of its value. A lot of people will suffer. Optimistically, peoples faith in Big Government to solve their problems for them and be their ultimate security will be destroyed, the lies exposed, and a new birth of true liberty might occur. It won’t occur, however, as long as we think bailouts and checks for everyone are somehow an expression of American ruggedness.

    • #18
    • April 1, 2020, at 6:15 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nothing about printing money got us into this crisis with the virus. 

    And the people of the past had their own crisis they ignored. The Civil War was the worst outcome of ignoring a building crisis and punting that down the road as long as possilble. Welcome to life in a commercial republic. 

    Maybe this will be what rights the ship, in that respect. I don’t know. I do know that republics won’t change things until a crisis. 

    What I won’t do is yell about this getting ready to start a Civil War this time. 

    • #19
    • April 1, 2020, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. J Climacus Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Nothing about printing money got us into this crisis with the virus.

    That’s true, but being massively in debt makes the nation much more vulnerable to any sort of crisis. If we had a treasury surplus instead of monumental debt, we could ride out the virus relatively unscathed. When you are over your head in debt, even moderate problems become an existential crisis.

    And the people of the past had their own crisis they ignored. The Civil War was the worst outcome of ignoring a building crisis and punting that down the road as long as possilble. Welcome to life in a commercial republic.

    Maybe this will be what rights the ship, in that respect. I don’t know. I do know that republics won’t change things until a crisis.

    That’s generally true unfortunately. The thing is, we won’t change until we recognize what the true crisis and threat is. Unfortunately, responding to the virus with yet more money printing and debt shows we still don’t get what the problem really is. Until we do, it will just get worse.

    What I won’t do is yell about this getting ready to start a Civil War this time.

    I hope we don’t end up in a Civil War. There is a danger of that, however, when people start to realize that all the promises made to them by government in the form of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, pensions and all the rest of it won’t be honored, or will be honored with money that doesn’t buy anything because it’s been printed into oblivion. Then they will understand that the bailouts and free checks were lies, and social unrest at least will be the result. Better to be honest with them now and face up to the predicament we are in.

    • #20
    • April 1, 2020, at 12:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. Peter Gøthgen Member
    Peter Gøthgen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Everyone feels the satisfaction of vindication when they are right. But only the pessimist can also be happy when they are wrong.

    • #21
    • April 1, 2020, at 2:44 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Roderic Coolidge

    I agree. Even if the efforts to suppress this bug fail we will take the hit, mourn our losses, and the comeback is going to be amazing.

    • #22
    • April 2, 2020, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Leftists are nihilists and eugenicists.

    They jerk off to Malthus.

     

    • #23
    • April 2, 2020, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Jim George Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Leftists are nihilists and eugenicists.

    They jerk off to Malthus.

     

    With respect, I have to wonder how that elevated the discourse on this most important issue affecting not only our Nation but the world. Jim

    • #24
    • April 3, 2020, at 4:18 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Henry Castaigne Member

    Jim George (View Comment):

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Leftists are nihilists and eugenicists.

    They jerk off to Malthus.

     

    With respect, I have to wonder how that elevated the discourse on this most important issue affecting not only our Nation but the world. Jim

    I think we should be trying to focus more on positivity in order to elevate the conversation and do more to convince our friends on the left. We should encourage masturbating to Milton Friedman in a positive and respectful manner. 

    • #25
    • April 5, 2020, at 4:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    Bryan G. Stephens: I spent my childhood in the ’70s listening to people tell me how America was over. We were in decline, and that was how it was going to be. If we were lucky, the USSR and the USA would not nuke each other. Movies were about sliding into decay, about the end of the world, about how we were losers. Well, in 1981, things changed. And I saw a great decade where I came of age. Because of that, I am an optimist on America.

    I was also a child of the 70s and remember it exactly like that, too. It was like a heavy feeling. I also had a particularly embarrassing moment during my school Christmas play connected with the Iran Hostage Crisis. From what I was hearing the adults around me say, I connected that embarrassing moment with President Carter and disliked him intensely.

    I remember being at my great grandmother’s house, where many from my family would always drop in for coffee. I don’t know if it was live or a replay but they were watching President Reagan’s inauguration address. I was only seven so I didn’t really understand things but I knew I didn’t like President Carter and I knew that this guy was inspiring, and it just felt different. I always loved President Reagan after that.

    • #26
    • April 6, 2020, at 6:47 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Steven Seward Member

    Chris Hutchinson (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens: I spent my childhood in the ’70s listening to people tell me how America was over. We were in decline, and that was how it was going to be. If we were lucky, the USSR and the USA would not nuke each other. Movies were about sliding into decay, about the end of the world, about how we were losers. Well, in 1981, things changed. And I saw a great decade where I came of age. Because of that, I am an optimist on America.

    I was also a child of the 70s and remember it exactly like that, too. It was like a heavy feeling. I also had a particularly embarrassing moment during my school Christmas play connected with the Iran Hostage Crisis. From what I was hearing the adults around me say, I connected that embarrassing moment with President Carter and disliked him intensely.

    I remember being at my great grandmother’s house, where many from my family would always drop in for coffee. I don’t know if it was live or a replay but they were watching President Reagan’s inauguration address. I was only seven so I didn’t really understand things but I knew I didn’t like President Carter and I knew that this guy was inspiring, and it just felt different. I always loved President Reagan after that.

    If you listen to today’s mainstream news you would think not that America was in decay, but that the decay had already occurred and we are in a miserable place full of murder, natural disasters, corruption, inequality, intolerance, and hate.

    • #27
    • April 6, 2020, at 6:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    If you listen to today’s mainstream news you would think not that America was in decay, but that the decay had already occurred and we are in a miserable place full of murder, natural disasters, corruption, inequality, intolerance, and hate.

    It hasn’t? I mean, there is Tiger King… HaHaHa! Just kidding, but seriously as a proud American who lives in Europe, that show has not been helpful to me during daily conversations in the least!

    • #28
    • April 6, 2020, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  29. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Chris Hutchinson (View Comment):
    I knew that this guy was inspiring, and it just felt different. I always loved President Reagan after that.

    Same

    • #29
    • April 6, 2020, at 2:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like