I am very worried about the state of the United States of America. And I’ve never felt this way in all my years living in this country. Sure there have been some nasty times in the past when the country witnessed internal extremist behavior, as in the Clinton impeachment. And 9/11 showed us how much harm external extremism can do to America. Still, nothing compares with what is happening these days.
The country is in deep economic trouble. Whether the US economy is technically in a recession, or headed for a double-dip recession, is a matter for economists to discuss. What matters to the rest of us is that millions of people are losing their jobs and can’t find new ones, consumer confidence is low (try selling a house in this market!) and businesses are suffering. The dollar is the weakest it’s ever been, the markets are nervous and people are losing money. And it doesn’t help it that Europe is also in a bind.
On Thursday, according to the Washington Post, “the Dow Jones industrial average closed down for its ninth session out of 10, finishing the day down more than 500 points, or 4.3 percent in the red; the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 4.8 percent; and the Nasdaq tumbled 5.1 percent. All three indexes experienced their biggest weekly drops since May 2010.” And on Friday, Standard & Poors downgraded the US credit rating for the first time ever from AAA to AA+. This is bad news on top of bad news.
In difficult times, it’s expected that the leadership of a country will rise to the occasion putting opposing interests aside and pulling together to find the best possible solution, all for the good of the country. Instead, we have a dysfunctional Congress, where a radical and irresponsible minority dictates actions and hinders processes because they don’t give a damn if the US and global economies tank, as long as they get what they want.
Bickering and waiting until the 11th hour to make crucial decisions that affect an entire nation is not what the leadership of a great nation should do. And with such fractioned and dysfunctional parties, it’s hard to imagine things getting any better as we enter an election year.
From a communications perspective, these two parties had better get their act together as both look pretty pathetic to the electorate. Disgruntled Democrats must be very careful as they express their dissatisfaction with the debt deal. This is not the time to be badmouthing the President –their candidate– unless they don’t mind having another Republican in the White House for the next eight years.
Republicans are much savvier in that respect. Once they choose their candidate they will rally around him/her, stay on message, and viciously attack Obama and the Democrats. Democrats have a difficult time doing the same because they want to please everyone and in the months ahead there will be plenty of disagreement between various factions within the party. This needs to change if they want to stay in power beyond 2012.