This nation of ours is in a really bad mood.
According to the latest polls, only 28 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction, the lowest in a decade, and most point the finger of blame at the occupants of Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Pollsters say American anger is at an all-time high. You don’t need a poll to figure that out. Just wander down to the local coffee shop for breakfast and listen to the anger spilling out over the war in Iraq, skyrocketing energy prices and a government out of control.
“More and more Americans are angry,” says retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004. “They are angry about the president’s incompetence and his general unwillingness to acknowledge with some humility that he has made some terrible and tragic mistakes regarding the mission in Iraq.”
Anger towards the President and government is not limited to Democrats or liberals. Conservatives and Republicans show increasing displeasure on a variety of fronts.
“Bush clearly has retreated from the promise he made to the country on September 20, 2001, the night he declared the War on Terror,” writes conservative commentator Steven M. Warshawsky. “The entire conceptual framework underlying the Bush Doctrine has been replaced, in just a few short years, with a Vietnam-era retread. RIP the Bush Doctrine.”
Some say the anger is long overdue.
“Our country today finds itself more bitterly divided than at any time since the Viet Nam War. From the party of the loyal opposition on down, we have been what I suspect is a silent majority of dissenters. But the time for silence is now over,” writes Jeff Birkenstein in Counterpunch. “The silence is ending and the people are beginning to make their voices heard.”
Yet others wonder if the anger comes too late.
“In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed its soldiers,” editorializes The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let him. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes.”
The anger spills over in other parts of our society. Domestic violence is on the rise.
“If today is a normal day in our country, three women will be murdered by husbands or boyfriends. Tomorrow, three more will die. The next day, three again,” The Arizona Republic editorializes. “Many more will be beaten or raped, screamed at or shoved against the wall in a fit of anger by men who say they love them. They lie.”
According to FBI statistics, crimes of violence rose sharply in the last year, coinciding with what pollsters say is an increase in anger in our society.
In searching for writings about America and anger, I came across these comments:
“For us to be loyal Americans, we can’t be random and hypocritical about it. For years, being American has supposedly meant being unified as one and supporting equality on all levels, from gender to class to race. The land of the free and the equal seems to be the land of the confused and the phony. Let’s get it together.”
The words come from Brittany Garrett, freshman at Murray State University, writing in the campus newspaper. She continues:
“What I am calling in to question is the apparent hypocrisy that exists today in American life. We are angry only when we are allowed to be, patriotic when it’s popular and are supposedly living under the great American ideals.”
When our children see the problem so clearly, it is time for all of us to step back and think.