• 61°

Confidence in the economy is lacking

After the disappointments of the Bush years and the Obama years, many Americans aren’t sure where next to turn. Faith in Congress has collapsed. Faith in bureaucrats is nonexistent. Yet, the crises keep on coming.

In a new Associated Press-GfK poll, more than half of respondents agreed that “Washington can do little to effectively lessen threats such as climate change, mass shootings, racial tensions, economic uncertainty and an unstable job market.”

And that’s before the Ebola crisis hit.

The biggest crisis of all, however, is one that politicians and policymakers have had the least success in remedying: our national crisis of confidence.

It’s easy to mistake our shaken confidence for the kind of “malaise” that Jimmy Carter was mocked for bemoaning. And pundits and officeholders can get a lot of airtime blaming America’s misfortunes on an attitude problem, calling us _ or those who disagree with them _ little more than “a nation of whiners.”

Whenever populists stand up and blame the elites who run the show, however, they’re slammed as dangerous demagogues who aren’t “solutions-oriented.”

Why the impasse? On the one hand, Americans have lost confidence in the power of government to solve our largest problems. On the other, they’ve lost confidence in the idea that there’s anything more powerful than government. If we can’t count on Washington to control the malevolent forces that dwarf us all, what – or who _ can we count on?

A rhetorical question like that can send us into pretty fatalistic territory. Rather than seeing our challenges as evil or even bad, we can chalk them up to mere fate. Joe Teasdale, a 59-year-old assistant engineer at a Wisconsin casino, summed up the view in his response to the AP. “I think what we’ve got going on here in America is the perfect storm of not-good things,” he said.

If we want to recover the feeling that we control our own destiny, that view can hurt or help us. If we start to think we’re inevitably doomed by an unfeeling universe, or by our inherent human folly, we’ll view bad government with the same resignation – and actually seal our fate.

If, on the other hand, we accept the idea that bad things happen in the course of things, and that it’s ultimately on us to prevail, we can start finding small ways to take charge that might quickly add up.

In “Democracy in America,” written about 180 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville thought that was our best hope for a free future. By forming associations among friends and neighbors, we can start creating areas of reliable order in our lives. The closer that kind of order is to our homes and neighborhoods, the more confidently we can project it outward.

— Orange County Register

Comments

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, local groups reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT