Someone somewhere has come up with two words that perfectly describe what I’ve been feeling for several months.
At no time, in my many years, have I felt such a continuing, angry mood both personally and nationally. Seems like everybody is mad about something or at someone. Or many somethings and many someones.
You can feel it every day no matter where you go or what your activity. It’s sort of a visceral undercurrent. And it doesn’t take much “scratching” to suddenly bring it to the surface. Lots of folks are feeling it.
It’s not a far right or far left situation. It’s very personal, no matter your political persuasion. Even if you have no political persuasion at all. You can hear it in the tone of voices. You can sense it when someone gets mad for no apparent reason. Recently, a clerk in a store responded angrily when I made a mistake in self-checkout, then quickly apologized for her words, saying such an outburst was not like her.
At a local bank, a teller made a mistake when entering my deposit. She immediately popped off with a couple of not-for-children words. She, too, apologized, saying she has just “felt so angry recently.” Me, too.
What our wannabee dictator-in-training has done and lied about over the last couple of years is much of the basic fuel for our current national psyche. Now, with a terrible demagoguery dealing with helpless immigrant families, I think many of us have been pushed over the edge. We’re mad, frustrated, wanting to help but feeling helpless, utterly embarrassed and ashamed all at once.
This is not our national tradition. In the most basic terms, this is not who we are – not how we behave – not what we believe – not how we’ve historically treated others. Our angry, seemingly cruel and out-of-control actions and feelings are not what millions fought and died to protect.
The nation is changing, top to bottom and inside out, in the most fundamental ways. While change is a constant, there were rock-solid underpinnings which kept us on the right moral pathway. Our institutions were respected and trusted. Our government was, most of the time, responsive to our needs. Our politics covered the entire spectrum of beliefs but always seemed to return to the center because, when conducting those activities, that was known to be the best way to accomplish legislative goals.
Now, we’re bombarded with visceral attacks on those foundations, often by people in that same government. Our national needs are not being met as the new breed of politician attempts to slash and burn necessary survival programs like food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Our out-of-control military budget is higher than the next six nations combined. But, millions in uniform still need food stamps and local food banks to subsist.
Our daily atmosphere is contaminated with hate, anger, lies and damned lies. We’re blanketed with this foul, verbal bombardment while other news – very important national and international news – is disregarded. What we need to know to be an informed citizenry is overshadowed by dozens of political investigations, court filings and guilty pleas from the most corrupt administration of modern times. Maybe all time. Our Congress, and many cabinet agencies, have become political eunuchs unable to perform even the most basic constitutional acts.
The palpable anger and frustration are real. They’re befouling our national culture – our politics – our basic institutions – our place in a fast-moving world. We’re even breaking our fundamental international commitments to countries we’ve collaborated with – and shared a mutual trust with – for hundreds of years.
Some folks are pleading for an end to all this and for a sudden outbreak of comity and togetherness. Others say we’ve already gone too far for national kum-ba-yah.
There’s been way too much of the former for so long that, in actuality, there’s no realistic chance for the latter.
Until we can speak at the polls, our onset of outrage fatigue is likely to get worse.