A Malaise of Cynicism and Despair

I remember back in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was President our country faced seemingly intractable problems much like today. I was living at Quail Creek Apartments in Rock Hill, SC. Inflation was at 13 percent. We had to fill up our cars on alternating days to get gas. The U.S. space station Skylab was about to fall from the sky, and no one could tell for sure where it might land. The president’s popularity rating was at 25 percent, lower than any since Harry Truman, and a majority of his party looked forward to running Teddy Kennedy in the primaries against him. The country outlook was pretty bleak. It was the economy, stupid.

On July 15th 1979 President Jimmy Carter gave what the press called the “Malaise Speech,” I remember watching it and like most Americans we were expecting a laundry list of proposals to deal with the energy crisis. President Carter took a different approach.

As we know most presidential addresses proclaim the greatness of Americans which was what we were expecting. President Carter didn’t go there. Instead he proclaimed that the nation was suffering a “crisis in confidence” which struck “at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will.” He called upon the nation to reflect upon its meaning and purpose, and critiqued American materialism. President Carter is a devout Southern Baptist and I could see that in his speech. There was an acknowledgement of sins, as Carter acknowledged his failings; a reaffirmation of faith in the American spirit, and a rededication to action.

The immediate response was generally favorable. President Carter had spoken to the American people with such sincerity about matters of the heart and spirit. This was the reason even in a crappy economy I had voted for Jimmy Carter. President Carter’s approval ratings went up twelve points after that speech.

Flash forward to 2022 and this past week President Biden gave us a speech. I was hoping again for that speech that would give us Americans a boost of confidence. Instead we heard about the litany of sins of the GOP. Divisions, anger and the impending threats of our democratic republic ending. The democracy is ending if you don’t vote the way I say you should vote.

Our open border is a direct challenge to our democracy, as criminals, human traffickers and fentanyl are welcomed in. President Biden’s policies have resulted in record crime in our cities as the police are assaulted and murdered. We can thank President Biden for the upcoming large increase in our Social Security checks. He tweeted about that success only to remove when he realized to his policies inducing record inflation was the cause. Just a rededication to action would have been nice.

The GOP is not without sin. Not by a long stretch. Please do not mention the deficit when you are just as responsible as the Dems. There are other sins as well but I can only keep peoples attention for so long when writing a blog.

Can’t we all just get along? I’m afraid not. I think as a country we are past the point of no return. I shutter to think what may happen when I wake up on Wednesday morning. If only we could have had ole Jimmy deliver that speech he delivered so long ago.

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