- The U.S. economy is one of the strongest in the world. In raising interest rates this week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said our economy is a “source of strength” for economies around the globe.
- Unemployment is just 5% and falling. That’s significantly below its average of 6% for the last 60 years. In Ronald Reagan’s last year in office it was 5.5%.
- The U.S. economy has added 2.3 million jobs so far in 2015.
- The stock market is near record highs.
- Corporate profits are the highest they’ve been in 85 years.
- Millions of Americans are now able to buy health care who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
- Americans are paying fewer taxes than recent generations have been asked to pay.
- Gas prices are near $2 a gallon.
- America is freer and fairer than any time in its history, with civil rights extended to more people than ever before.
- Teenage pregnancies are at their lowest in history.
- Violent crime in the U.S. is at its lowest in almost 45 years.
- Despite today’s troubling headlines, violence worldwide is at historic lows.
That’s not to say America doesn’t have challenges, many of them very serious: ISIS, stagnant wages, gridlock in Congress, just to name a few. But America has always faced challenges. Are our issues today any worse than in any other decade in American history? For example:
- The Afghanistan and Iraq wars, 9/11, and exploding deficits of the 2000s
- The soaring crime rate, the Gulf War, the Oklahoma City bombing in the 1990s
- A major recession and the AIDS crisis of the ’80s
- Rampant inflation, the Iranian hostage crisis, Watergate and the resignation of a president, and the gas crisis of the ’70s
- The Vietnam War, the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation, political assassinations, and social upheavals of the ’60s
- The Korean War of the ’50s
- World War II in the ’40s
- The Great Depression in the ’30s
By comparison, our present-day troubles seem relatively manageable. So why all the heebie-jeebies from conservatives?
One reason, of course, is because they’re the opposition party to the president; it’s their job to exaggerate our troubles. Fair enough. But the pure vitriol directed at Obama is more than politics. Years of the Fox News/right-wing radio hyperbole machine have whipped the conservative rabble into a froth of anger and fear. They’ve convinced a good chunk of Americans that our country is falling apart at the seams.
Democrats cannot let that meme go unchallenged. It’s time to start spreading some good news about our country.
And Americans are desperate to hear it. After the trauma of the Great Recession, voters are hungry for an optimistic message. People want to feel good about their lives and their country. And at the moment, there’s no reason they shouldn’t. Americans will love candidates who can prove to them that America is doing well, and getting better all the time.
Of course, in an odd way it’s a bit risky to preach good news. It’s always dangerous to tell people they shouldn’t feel what they feel. Democrats should be careful not to blame voters for feeling angry or afraid. They should blame Republicans instead—for their relentless pessimism and negativity. And, of course, the timing will have to be right. This probably isn’t the time at the moment, with Americans focused on the threat of terrorism.
Democrats should also be careful to acknowledge that the U.S. has serious problems that need addressing. The message is that our problems are solvable, and no worse than the kinds of issues Americans have always faced with a spirit of optimism, innovation, compromise, and resiliency.
In our post tomorrow, we’ll give an example of an imaginary speech from Hillary Clinton that will show how this can be done.