It's been at least 10 years. Maybe a little more.
There are, no doubt, lots of reasons for this. Blame it on post-9/11, the recession, the two immoral wars, unemployment, the debt, the cost of having the first Black man in the White House, the Tea Party . . . . whatever.
I submit that all of these things are symptoms of the real cause which I'm calling "The Great American Funk".
It's not exactly a depression. It's more of a "funk" - a kind of deflated mood caused by a cultural miasma or "bad air." From my perspective, it's an aftereffect of the fear-mongering we have endured which has caused a lingering pollution of our national environment - including the cancerous nature of our political discourse.
Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rove, two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice being the other two) galloped through the country spreading wars and rumors of wars and whispers of weapons of mass destruction.
I'm convinced that all this, plus the rhetoric of "The Evil Axis of Power" was designed to keep the citizenry in panic-mode.
Indeed, I am convinced that it is the Cheney-Rove ideology which gave birth to the Tea Party Movement which continues their fear mongering agenda.
Fear and panic are critically important political tools which helps to keep in power those who wish to stay in power.
It has ever been thus.
If you don't believe me, just watch how happily American citizens allow TSA agents to rifle through their luggage at airports and how easily we comply with full body scans and how we sit by and watch the profiling of people with dark or swarthy skin and endure other compromises to our civil liberties - like telephone and email surveillance - which were brought about by The Patriot Act.
By the way, if you didn't know this, the official title is the US PATRIOT ACT which stands for "Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001".
Welcome to 1984, Big Brother.
So, now that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are dead, and we know that there never were any "weapons of mass destruction", but we've spent over 3 Trillion dollars on "Homeland Security" and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 is behind us, is it any wonder that Americans are in a funk?
We've looked into the face of the Enemy and seen our own reflection. Indeed, we've become our own worst enemy, complete with domestic terrorists that we have elected to political office.
The President has wisely urged us to call on "the people we hired" (whether we voted for them or not) in Congress to focus on creating jobs for people to get back to work.
"But know this: the next election is fourteen months away. And the people who sent us here – the people who hired us to work for them – they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months. Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.His administration has fashioned The American Job Act a four-point plan which seeks to provide tax cuts to help America’s small businesses hire and grow, put workers back on the job while rebuilding and modernizing America, create pathways back to work for Americans looking for jobs, and, provide tax relief for every American worker and family.
I know. Pretty lofty plan. I would submit that lofty plans are exactly what we need right now. Some goal to reach for. Something to make us stretch. Something to shake off the American Funk we've been in for the last decade.
The President ended his speech with these words:
These are difficult years for our country. But we are Americans. We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.
|Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother, March, 1936|
Two great dams - the Bonneville and Grand Coulee - were built in the 1930s and 40s which brought electricity to rural areas that were not served by existing utilities. The economy of the Pacific Northwest was strengthened as manufacturing opportunities grew.
During this same period, the Nave, the West Front, the Baptistry, and part of the North Transept of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC were completed. Construction on the National Cathedral in DC also continued, and, as the website says, "offer(ed) jobs to men who might otherwise have been on the government line for food".
Indeed, during The Great Depression, St. Peter's Church in Morristown literally pushed out the stone walls of the church to create a sacristy and skilled wood carvers were also given employment, incorporating marvelous carvings out of the wood beams.
Social Security was also developed during this time - based, believe it or not, on the pension plan for Episcopal Clergy - as well as federal regulations for the banking industry.
Imagine! And, that was during a full-blown, world-wide depression. According to economists, the recession has already ended. (I don't think even God understands what economists say.)
I grew up hearing my father talk about working in CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and on WPA (Works Progress Administration) projects. He said that the money wasn't great but it did provide some income so people didn't have to stand in soup lines.
More importantly, he said, it restored his sense of self-worth and gave him pride in his country because the work he was doing was not only helping the economy, it was doing something to help America.
I think that's a very important point. You've got to shake off the American Funk before you can turn the recession around and prevent us from going into a depression.
That takes money. The thing I know about money is that you've got to spend it to get it.
More importantly, it takes energy.
Here's the thing about energy: In order to get it, you've got to spend it.
I don't know how that works. I only know that it does.
When my pup Theo asks to go out in the early evening after a long day, the last thing I want to do is take a long walk. I'd rather fix some supper, have a glass of wine, and collapse in my chair with a good book or even watch a rerun of "Masterpiece Theater".
The thing of it is that the more I focus on how tired I am, the less I'm inclined to do the things I need and want to do.
However, if I take Theo for a long walk, I come back into the house and discover that I have energy to fix my supper, and, while it's cooking... oh, look!... there are some clothes to fold and ... gee, why didn't I see that the bathroom really needs to be tidied up a bit and . . . well, lookie here, I've left shoes scattered all over the bedroom, might as well put them away and organize them better in my closet.
And then, I'll eat my supper and have a glass of wine which tastes ever-so-much better because I'm savoring my accomplishments as well.
So, we have a choice. We can continue to wallow in the American Funk we've been in or we can get up on our feet and begin to call on "the people we hired" to work together to get America back to work.
There will be great resistance to the American Job Act. Make no mistake. Even as we speak - or, more accurately, even as the President was speaking - you could see the wheels turning behind the beady little eyes in the middle of Cantor and Boehner's heads.
This is the time for "we the people" to turn to the Party of No and "just say no". No more partisan politics. No more thinly veiled racist ideology masquerading as "The Grand Old Party".
It's time for us to remind Democrats that you don't negotiate with bullies or terrorists. This is government "by the people" but it is also "FOR the people." Let's not let them forget that.
We are the ones we have been waiting for and it's time we got to work getting the "people we hired" to create jobs so that we can all get back to work rebuilding this country.
So, roll up your sleeves and start working the phones and emails and tweets and fax machines and writing old fashioned letters to Congress - Republican and Democrat. As Mr. Obama said, send the message by carrier pigeon, if necessary.
We got through 9/11 and what some have called "Anniversary Fatigue".
Let's put the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse back into the barn.
The time has come and now is to end The Great American Funk.
Watch the President's Speech here and then tell him "I'm in."
As Howard Thurman once said, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go and do that, because what this world needs is people who have come alive."