I watched with interest the coverage of the first anniversary of Joe Biden’s presidency last week, which, as I expected, contained a lot of negativity.
It seems like 42% approval is bad. Some commentators have drawn general conclusions that the president is not achieving his goals.
We have to keep in mind that society is dealing with COVID. Factors such as race relations, the economy, and political turmoil in Asia are also worth considering.
There is the question of whether anyone from either party could have gotten more than 50% marks last week. President Trump has consistently scored below 43%. Chances are, a progressive-wing Democrat, a moderate Republican, or a conservative Republican will all face the same kinds of hurdles.
The public is unlikely to give a high rating to an administration when they are dissatisfied. In 2022, America for the most part is just not happy.
COVID is part of this trend. People are tired of being afraid of catching a dangerous disease. There is frustration and sometimes even anger about masks, as well as uncertainty about whether it is safe to travel, go out to eat or go to gatherings.
Much of the misfortune, however, took root long before COVID. It goes back at least 15 years when I attended graduate school at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Polls at the time showed that Americans were among the most unhappy people in the world. We were perceived by others as a stressed and overworked society.
My classmates from the international graduate school wondered why this was the case. They wondered how Americans could be unhappy when our society has so much abundance. I had no answer for them.
I still don’t have a definitive answer, but I’ve become convinced over the past 15 years that it has at least some connection to materialism as well as some connection to the proliferation of electronics in everyday life.
The American dream is not the same dream people had when I was growing up. At that time, a three-bedroom hiker with a one-car garage and a mostly unfinished basement was considered a family-sized home. Today, most houses in this category are occupied by a single person, or at most a small family of two or three people.
Now the dream is for five bedrooms and a triple garage. It has become the standard for many new home developments. Home prices of all sizes have skyrocketed.
There seems to be a confusion between needs and wants. How much of that kind of abundance does anyone really need?
Materialism served to put physical and social distance between neighbors. People get in their car every day, go to work or school, come home to rest in the evening, and could easily never speak to people living nearby.
Technology adds to this situation. Now everyone can focus only on their devices, only on the people they choose to have associations with.
There are very few random interactions in public, the kind in which casual conversations might turn into starting points for friendship.
Instead, people are too busy being glued to their devices. Social media networks that have the ability to expand circles of friends often never have the chance to achieve this goal, as many people no longer practice the basics of in-person networking.
The same things that create distance between individuals seem to inspire political division. There is frustration with the government as some feel the federal government is trying to go too far in telling them what to do while others feel it does not go far enough to promote goals like welfare. be economical and the right to vote.
There is a time when everything has to come together in some kind of sensible cooperation and compromise. There should never be a repeat of the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.
If everyone looks only for themselves, America is destined to have more division and a series of unsuccessful presidents. The future depends on finding a better way. It starts with wanting the best for everyone, everywhere.
— Jim Muchlinski is a longtime journalist and contributor to the Marshall Independent