As America heads into perhaps its most pivotal Presidential election in modern times candidates for the highest office in the land face an angry, disillusioned, depressed electorate that fear hard times now and see harder times ahead.
Many Americans face the coming year with sullenness and despair. Many have lost their homes as foreclosures mount. Many lost their jobs and face uncertain employment prospects for the future.
Here at Capitol Hill Blue we see that anger and darkness daily in our interaction with readers. It spills out in comments to stories, dominates discussion and touches most of the stories we print.
Many readers ask "what's the use?" In an election where "change" dominates the debate, most voters don't expect change. They see little hope from any of the candidates on either side of the political aisle.
The mood of the nation is dark, the outlook is bleak and hope has all but vanished.
Reports The New York Times:
Whatever their ideological differences this election year, Americans seem able to agree on one thing: the political landscape being crisscrossed by the 2008 candidates is barely recognizable as the one traveled by George W. Bush and Al Gore a mere eight years ago.
Obviously, Sept. 11 and its aftermath have changed the country in countless and irretrievable ways. But even beyond the emergence of war and national security as pre-eminent concerns, there has been a profound reordering of domestic priorities, a darkening of the country’s mood and, in the eyes of many, a fraying of America’s very sense of itself.
While not universal, that tone pervaded dozens of interviews conducted over the last week with Americans of all political stripes in 8 of the 24 states that hold primaries or caucuses on Feb. 5, as well as with historians, elected officials, political strategists and poll takers. As the candidates fan out to New York and California and here to the heartland, they are confronting an electorate that is deeply unsettled about the United States’ place in the world and its ability to control its own destiny.
Since World War II, the assumption of American hegemony has never been much in doubt. That it now is, at least for some people, has given this campaign a sense of urgency that was not always felt in 2000, despite the dramatic outcome of that race.
Several writers and historians remarked on the psychological impact of such a jarring end to the Pax Americana, just as it seemed that victory in the cold war might usher in prolonged prosperity and relative peace (save the occasional mop-up operation). Its confluence with an era of unparalleled technological innovation had only heightened the nation’s sense of post-millennial possibility.
Now, Americans feel a loss of autonomy, in their own lives and in the nation. Their politics are driven by the powerlessness they feel to control their financial well-being, their safety, their environment, their health and the country’s borders. They question whether each generation will continue to ascend the economic ladder. That the political system seems so impotent only deepens their frustration and their insistence on results.