Opinion: A look back at the ‘mourning’ after the election
I hear you. You’re angry. You feel ignored. You’re mad as hell! I get it. You’ve been left out. The American dream has failed you, has failed many of us. The 30-year mortgage led not to ownership, but to foreclosure. The pension and 401k were lost in corporate raids, plant closures, and stretches of unemployment. Jobs that were supposed to offer more responsibility and reward went the other way.
Sure, some of this was our own fault. Some clearly was due to corporate greed; more to incompetent government and the corrosive influence of Big Money and its lobbyists. Some was just the bad luck of the inevitable, incessant wave that says no one, no company, no country can have the lead all the time. We love to chant “Number One!” but we know from our home-town sports that each season is a temporal thing: Sometimes you’re ahead; sometimes not.
I’m puzzled. Explain to me again why you’re now empowering the Republicans, those who were at the helm when our Ship of State sailed into the vortex of the Great Recession. The ones who opposed financial regulation; the ones who gave tax breaks to the wealthy and cheap money to the investors who bought your foreclosed home. You’re giving a case of champagne to those at the top, hoping you’ll get a trickle back from a disproved theory of “trickle-down economics.” How’s that gonna work out for you?
When Congressmen with government paid healthcare cancel your subsidized insurance and pre-existing condition clause, how’s it gonna work out? When the wall’s built and cheap labor doesn’t pick the California crop, are you ready to walk in the fields? To mix the concrete? To clean the houses and tend to your grandchildren while your son and daughter both work to pay the mortgage, or more likely, the rent?
I’m upset too! I’ve got an MBA and years of experience — too many years to find a decent job in a youth-oriented culture. I got dropped back in the dot-bust, pre-IPO. With a family to feed, I picked up my carpenter’s belt. It’s been a long 15 years; the retirement account never was rebuilt.
I too feel resentment at opportunities withdrawn, promises not kept, biases that become borders. I feel the angst when I see billionaires — young tech and old money — pay 15% capital gains while you pay 30% on earned income. I’m sad the jobs that left the country aren’t coming back, no matter what your chosen one says. For the forces of global markets, cheaper labor, and — let’s face it — our own preference for less expensive goods and big box stores are not going to change their unrelenting direction.
The challenge of finding new ways, new skills, new businesses remains, and it has been largely unaddressed by a Congress all too engrossed in petty partisanship. We need to create value that is desired by our neighbors and our trading partners alike. America has led in the past. We lead in many things still. Yet we must find ways to utilize our considerable talents and create something surprising, something wondrous, something American that can be appreciated by people around the globe. I don’t know what that is just yet; but I know we can figure it out. We’re Americans! That’s what we do.
You now have control of all three branches of government. The “Party of No!” is going to have to come up with some “Yes” ideas, some real plans. With a win so thin the popular vote didn’t go your way, you’ll need help getting things done. We can help you inspire and execute. Disappointed as we are, we still have faith in our country and the often quirky workings of Democracy.
Canada or Panama may seem enticing right now, but we aren’t leaving. The future depends upon what we do now. Our children, our families rely upon what we do now — together.
So yes, I hear you. Explain that to me one more time. Then, let’s get to work. We have a country to run.
James Chandler is an Incline Village resident.
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