Pride meets new politics
While I would never go as far as to call myself a sentimentalist, I do believe that when it comes to national politics, Americans need more faith.
Wrapped up in a preliminary election, voters are so quick to get behind a candidate and slap a bumper sticker on their car. I like to refer to this stage of the election process as the “Honeymoon Stage”; much like the first few months of a relationship, voters are enamored with their candidate of choice — oftentimes to a point of irrational confidence.
The Honeymoon Stage, however, is only temporary. In the past handful of presidential terms, recognizable trends have developed within the way Americans perceive an elected official. While timelines may vary, the majority of voters tend to lose a significant amount of faith in their president around the second-year mark of his term.
Unfortunately, in the past this tendency has propelled American politics into a state of constant inconsistency. Because it has become so difficult for Americans to stand behind a party’s political choices, power is constantly transferred from political party to political party. It seems as though, with a lack of continuity, it is becoming increasingly difficult for elected officials to accomplish long-term goals and political agendas.
While this change of heart has been especially conspicuous this year with President Obama and the November-elected Republican House, this trend has not developed surreptitiously.
On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter referred to this sort of movement as a “crisis of confidence” in a public address, highlighting the people’s doubt in their government, the economy, and a better future for their children. Ronald Reagan too addressed America’s lack of confidence in the national economy and employment when he famously asked, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” in an interview during October of 1980.
These past couple of years have only added to the building blocks of American pessimism. The Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan has been tracking American sentiment since the 1950s, and data show that Americans are more pessimistic about their situations and their government than they have been for more than a quarter of a century.
So what’s the solution? It’s always been true that a government works more efficiently if backed and supported by its people. This fact does not suggest, however, that all Americans should sport a pair of rose-colored glasses, but merely that instead of starting last-day-in-office online countdowns and #obamaistheantichrist trending topics on Twitter, they should work to find and maintain a medium between construction, criticism, and confidence.