The results are in. The most recent AP – NORC (National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago) poll reveals that 85% of Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Finally, something we can agree on. But why, why do we think the country is going in the wrong direction? There you will find little agreement.
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Are you unhappy about the economy? Are you unhappy about the inflation that was predicted by those who opposed the Trump tax cuts and the artificially low interest rates of the last administration, the inflation that resulted from the stimulus checks of 2020, or the inflation from last summer’s American Rescue Plan? Or is the current economy the inevitable result of COVID, Ukraine, or the unseen pendulum that swings from one direction to another? I don’t know. I’m not as nervous as I was in 2008, but I’m not comfortable. It is more than understandable that you might not be, too.
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There were 4th of July parades around the country today. Most featured elderly veterans, marching bands, and local politicians passing out candy to the flag-waving children lining the streets. Highland Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago had a uniquely American twist, a gunman with a high powered weapon. So far six are dead and dozens injured. As I write this the “person of interest” a 22 year old has been arrested. At a parade!
The Congressional Research Service defines a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people were shot. This does not include the shooter as one of the victims. By that definition we have had over 250 mass shootings in our country this year. Where do you feel safe? The grocery store? School? A place of worship? How can you think that we are going in the right direction when you and your children aren’t safe at a parade?
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Many of the Justices on the Supreme Court, especially the newest ones, are convinced that they know the intent of the men who wrote our Constitution in the late 1780’s as well as those who drafted the post-Civil War 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. They KNOW their intent. I find this interesting in that none of these Justices would have been confirmed had a few Senators known THEIR intent. Did the nominees lie to Senators Collins and Manchin or did they just tell the willfully naïve what they wanted to hear? Are these sins of omission, commission or just successful politics? Even our “Ends Justifies The Means” crowd on the political right can’t feel too good about this.
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Part history, part philosophy, and in truth, a large part BS, we engaged in a discussion. When did / will America peak? Some said that we have yet to reach our full glory. They predicted that the US would be even greater and more important. Others thought that we had already hit our top. I’ve participated in this conversation since the early 70’s and my position remained unchanged. I think we peaked in the late 1950’s. We were still riding the high of World War II. The Marshall Plan showed that we could help countries devastated by the war. We had yet to fully commit to the disaster that was to be Vietnam. Unions and the GI Bill were helping to create a powerful middle class. We had problems, mostly self-created, with equality, but we were starting to acknowledge them. Now, 50 years since those dorm room discussions, I’m more convinced than ever that we are past our peak. I might have been wrong in my earlier assessment. In a recent conversation I said that I might have been off by a decade. Perhaps we peaked in the late 1940’s.
One thing is for sure. When the Supreme Court is filled with activist judges trying to impose their religious beliefs on the country; when you are worried about fueling the car and feeding your kids; and when you don’t feel safe; it is impossible to say that we or our country are on the right track.
Picture – Wrong Way – David L Cunix