Inflation, trade deficits, horrible war atrocities ... how are we supposed to do our big musical number with so many problems in the world?
October 23, 2006 1:58 PM   Subscribe

What trends, what aspects, what trends suggest a positive outcome (from the perspective of a political liberal) and hope for the future ... both for mankind, and, separately, for America?

This is a very politically biased question involving politically charged opinions, but I am not posting it in order to provoke conflict; it is very honestly meant. That having been said, I'm not sure that people who believe that George W. Bush is a wise and sane man leading the country well can help me very much, and I think what follows would simply infuriate them. I respectfully suggest they go elsewhere without reading further.

My very first vote was for Clinton in 1992; since then, most of the time, I've kept abreast of national news. Since Bush was anointed in 2000, I have quite literally disagreed with almost every single action he has taken as President, as well as the actions and beliefs of most of his colleagues. Even his plans for us to go to Mars, which I'd normally enthusiastically support, seem an insane move in the face of our current massive debt. (Actually, one thing I like: the extension of the "cafeteria" medical expenditure deadlines to March 15. But that's one inconsequential thing in six years.)

Bush is my ideological opposite, and for him and his political faction to be running roughshod over our Constitution and playing dirty every chance they get has caused me to become a rather depressed liberal. It feels like we're already living in a near-dictatorship, what with Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, Diebold, free speech zones, signing statements, and legalized torture.

I know self-links aren't permitted on the blue, but hopefully they are allowed on the green when used as supportive material — pretty much the cumulative weight of those stories I've bookmarked on under a "whaddafuck" tag (or a "neocon", "horrifying", "dumbass", or "dumbfuck" tag, for that matter) are examples of everything I've just been blown away by, in a negative fashion, over the years.

Add to that the various apocalypses that seem to be hovering in the wings waiting to be called on stage: the Hubbert peak. Bird flu or another pandemic. A national debt so bad I'm just waiting for the Second Great Depression. Global warming. Ongoing terrorism. Seems like we just need one of these to happen in order for the nation's future to crash down very hard and very quick.

This isn't coming from a place of emotional depression, so please don't expand your answers into that area. It's more that some feelings of hopelessness have arisen from the events of the past six years, under a President who, intentionally or not, stupid or not, I tend to believe is one of the most evil men I've ever seen in my life, and who in his six years has done more to ride the country into the ground while worshipping Mammon (not the Jesus he supposedly worships) than any other American president preceding him.

What this boils down to: Please give me some solid, substantial, very concrete fodder (no "pat-pat-pat-it'll-be-okay-little-lib'rul" speech, in other words) that demonstrates that both America and the world are NOT going to hell in a handbasket, and I will be very much obliged.
posted by WCityMike to Religion & Philosophy (18 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: xyz sucks amirite questions do not go well here.

Radiation is terrible for humans, but it turns out that it's not so bad for animals. This, plus a new wave of nuclear weapons proliferation, gives me a great deal of hope for the planet. Chances are that after another hundred years or so on our current path, everything ought to be A-OK again!

Sorry, but I can't really give you better news than that.
posted by vorfeed at 2:22 PM on October 23, 2006

Well, look on the bright side.... even Germany recovered from Hitler.
posted by matkline at 2:23 PM on October 23, 2006

Mammon: for those of you (like me) that had no idea what this word meant. Interesting word choice.
posted by mmascolino at 2:31 PM on October 23, 2006

matkline, I really need to thank you for that. It made me both smile and pause long enough to consider how much a group of people can endure. Grazie.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:34 PM on October 23, 2006

You say you are depressed, then that you are not depressed. The nature of your question suggests more weight might be placed on the former. Specifically, you start out asking how to perform when you are emotionally drained, and retain feelings of hopelessness.

Then you change your question all together and ask for conservative arguments to disassemble. So, um, which is your question?
posted by kc0dxh at 2:41 PM on October 23, 2006

It's interesting to note the recovery of Germany. I sometimes think that things will turn around, but perhaps not completely in my lifetime.

The problem with the Germany analogy is that they were made to change after losing the war. The US has plenty of ability to continue to run roughshod over everyone in the world for quite some time (and I say this as an American).

So, to answer the OP, I'm not sure there is a good answer as I haven't seen the evidence that the majority of USians think there is a big enough of a problem. Bush is a symptom of an even bigger problem. That makes the baby Jesus cry.
posted by qwip at 2:49 PM on October 23, 2006

Look at that. The predictable Hitler reference right there in the second response. Such depth of thought.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:50 PM on October 23, 2006

Look at that. The predictable Hitler reference right there in the second response. Such depth of thought.

Less Godwin and more "Prime example of Fascism", me thinks. The current administration can arguably be compared to any fascist regime. Not a huge leap and certainly not unwarranted.
posted by qwip at 2:54 PM on October 23, 2006

If we can get back the House, Henry Waxman will be head of the Ethics Committee. This is the very thing that is keeping the Rethugs awake at nights, sweating bullets. Here in NM Madrid is ahead of Wilson by three points. Hold on, things are about to get good.
posted by Sara Anne at 2:55 PM on October 23, 2006

For material/social/technological trends:
Pretty much all of them are looking up. Have a look at Gregg Easterbrook's the Progress Paradox. It is an overgrown magazine article. You could read it in an hour. The gist: people are healthier, wealthier, safer, better educated, and more peaceful than they have ever been in human history.

For political, go back and read some history. If you think the Clinton/Bush/whatever administration was "the worst in US History", think again. No modern administration comes close to the sleaze of government in the 19th century.

What W has done to the constitution pales by comparison to what every wartime president since Washington did. We got over those and came to our senses then, it will happen again.

Keep in mind that 80% of the heat/noise generated in politics is produced to rally the faithful to write checks. Nobody ever sent out a fundraising mailing saying "Everything is great and has been getting better for decades! Donate now to keep our direct mail operation in business!"

There's a built in bias towards bad news. There's a built in bias towards crisis, and people *love* apocalyptic visions. Don't let it get you down too much.
posted by mrbugsentry at 3:24 PM on October 23, 2006

Long term: Worldwide (except for Africa), human health is improving. Per capita income is increasing, average life spans are getting longer (evidence that it is not only the rich who are benefiting from globalization), birthrates are falling, no, plummeting. Literacy is up almost everywhere. More people live under democratic governments than ever before. In the first world air and water are cleaner than they have been in generations. New technologies hold the promise of modernization without the Dickensian smokestack phase. The Endangered Species Act saved the bald eagle, the grizzly bear, and numerous other species that are making strong comebacks. Polls show that even a majority of young Republicans favor gay rights. We are living in the last days of the internal combustion engine, to be replaced with cleaner technologies. And imagine the medical advances of the next few decades.

Medium term: It looks good for the Democrats in two weeks, and even better in two years. Even the Republican presidential candidates are distancing themselves from Bush. We will see a change in Washington soon.

Short term: My son has a fluffy new kitten, which he named "Playful."

We live in this strange world where cynicism is mistaken for wisdom. People on the left and right alike try to pass off their trite pessimism for intellectual seriousness, and motivate their followers with various sky-is-falling pronouncements. Maybe it has always been thus--but it is bullshit. Every long term measure of human good that can be measured is heading in the right direction. Subsequent posters will jump on that statement with their own personal bugaboos, but it is true. This is not to say there are not setbacks (and the evil that Bush has done is a big one) but the world is headed in the right direction.
posted by LarryC at 3:26 PM on October 23, 2006 [2 favorites]

As I am, I suspect, somewhat older than you, let me put it into some perspective. Firstly, I utterly share your views on Dubya. However, I had very similar views on Nixon who, you may recall, had an unwinnable war, was sabotaging the Constitution and doing all sorts of nasty things. As a Chicagoan, you will recall that you had a Democratic (but not democratic) mayor, who was also no saint.

What have I seen since then that is positive? Racism is still alive and well but institutionalized racism is certainly less, both in the North America and Europe, though still alive and well. Despite the efforts of Dubya and Co. the environment is an issue. Women are still second-class citizens in many respects but much less so (again North America/Europe). And, of course, Soviet-style communism is dead/dying. I could add more but you can probably do the same and others will.

Second key point. What goes around, comes around. Nixon went in disgrace. I don't know whether Bush will be impeached but his legacy will be mud. Already he is backing away from Iraq and he will spend the next two years backing further away. Even if the Dems don't win in two weeks, he will have major problems from his own party. In short, the reign of the Republicans, while not necessarily at an end, is going to be curtailed.

Two things I am hoping for in the coming years. I am a huge fan of Richard Dawkins. Sorry if this offends anyone but I think religion and its misuse is responsible for much of what is wrong with the world today (Iraq, Israel, Northern Ireland, abortion, etc., etc.) I am hoping the influence of religion will diminish further, as has happened in Western Europe. I am also hoping (but will certainly be proved wrong) that Iraq will be the last imperial war, at least for the next twenty years. Surely, the US and UK have learned their lesson or, at least, the US and UK voters have learned. But we thought the same about Vietnam.

Sorry for the rant but keep the faith, Mike, vote the right way (i.e. the left way) in two weeks and wait for Dubya to sink into the swamp of history.
posted by TheRaven at 3:28 PM on October 23, 2006

Call me a troll, but Bush's policies have not been that far off from fiscal liberalism. He's supported big government, high spending, deficits, etc. These are considered liberal (collectivist) policies. In fact, inflation should be considered a socialist boon; it's a hidden tax that takes money from those who have it and gives it to the government to spend. Maybe I'm just looking at him from the perspective of a staunch libertarian, but I don't think Bush is the conservative fiend you think he is.

Granted, I still think the U.S. is headed down a very bad, bad path so I can't really help you with the rest of it.
posted by Durin's Bane at 3:29 PM on October 23, 2006

I think some can take heart that the US is losing in Iraq, dampening the enthusiasm for further adventurism. A few years ago I'd've predicted the US to have invaded a couple more countries by 2006.

The rise of China is good news for millions of people in Asia and Africa. The emergence of India is bringing millions out of poverty.

"Ongoing terrorism" is largely propaganda, and not really anything worth worrying about for anyone with a sense of proportion.
posted by pompomtom at 4:08 PM on October 23, 2006

Barack Obama might run for President!
posted by apostrophe at 4:22 PM on October 23, 2006

people at every time in history have thought that things were getting worse. Hamlet even mentions it.

Things now really aren't bad at all. yeah, Bush sucks: he'll be gone in two years. hes about to lose Congress. The nation is fed up with him. I read a poll this weekend that said even among Evangelical Christians (the much-derided "fundies"/red-staters), 31% disapprove of Bush.

Think of things previous generations faced, just in our century: the great depression, world wars, a fifty year nuclear standoff that threatened to literally end the world. Yeah, Bush sucks and Bin Laden sucks but they are tiny tiny blips on the radar.

Bush is not a "fascist" and is not similar to Hitler in any meaningful way. He is a very poor president, that's all. I can express my opinion of him on the internet at will; I can go out in the street and scream "fuck you George W Bush" and no Gestapo will drag me away. We live in a country that's going through some problems at the moment, but despite all the hyperbole, we are still free and things will get better.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:40 PM on October 23, 2006

People behaving like "neocon", "horrifying", "dumbass", or "dumbfuck"s have always been around. Mass media might make them more visible, but maybe that will just make it easier for society as a whole to gradually become disgusted with them and turn to something more reasonable. I don't think you have any basis to think there's more of them about today than there were a thousand years ago.

Some kind of "Great Depression" event is inevitable, eventually. Like wars, those things do happen from time to time. It's quite possible to survive them and come out stronger, as an individual and as a nation. But they aren't really that bad, you know, compared to the long-term future of human civilization which is to eat up all the planet's resources and then starve to death. That's not in your lifetime, though. And your lifetime is finite. I suspect that maybe this question really has something to do with reconciling yourself to the fact that in the long run, we're all dead. So have a good time while you're here.
posted by sfenders at 4:46 PM on October 23, 2006

we are still free and things will get better.

Try not paying your taxes.

The IRS takes around 30% of income immediately and the Fed (through fiat money and inflationary practices) takes most of the rest if you try saving it for two or three decades.
posted by Durin's Bane at 4:47 PM on October 23, 2006

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