A Season of Hope
Many people in America view the coming year with despair. Michelle Obama states, “we’re feeling what not having hope feels like”. It is true that eight years ago many people had hope of a bright future under the upcoming Obama administration. Their hopes were dashed. The government of president Obama couldn’t deliver on most of its promises, leaving the nation forlorn and divided.
Although conservatives are unlikely to slit their wrists like many despairing progressives threaten to do (but are unlikely to carry out), they look at the New Year in trepidation. President Elect Trump’s announced policies may have a profound, but unknown, impact on the lives of people in America and around the world (because everything America does has an impact around the world). The outcomes of some of his policies could be devastating.
Or they could be inconsequential. Life has a habit of going on. People and the institutions they create resist change. Maybe our fears are overblown. Perhaps he will run into resistance to his policies as President Obama did. Perhaps his policies will have little impact.
Even the hopes of President Elect Trump’s supporters may be dashed. He has already walked back a number of his more outlandish proposals (keep in mind that these are merely opening positions in a negotiation). Even the current stock market euphoria (the Dow is up almost 2,000 points since the election) may be overblown. Who knows what policies will have a greater impact on business, lower taxes or a trade war?
If you base your hope for a better life on god or government you are likely to be disappointed. God is more concerned with the afterlife than your humdrum existence here on earth (no matter what Joel Osteen says). Government, as well, has its own concerns. That’s why the problems at the Veterans Administration hospitals appear to be unsolvable. Government programs go on and on. The Selective Service System (the draft board) has 124 full time employees and a $22.7 million budget despite our armed forces being all-volunteer for over forty years. Twenty-two million dollars a year for over forty years is almost a billion dollars!
No. If you want hope you have to make it yourself. Don’t look to someone else to solve your problems. Other people may wish you well but they have their own concerns. Even the best parents get tired of their kids sleeping on the couch in the basement.
Only you know what gives you hope. More money. A better job. A loving family. Only you know what makes you happy and gives you hope of a better future.
Edward C. Banfield, in his book the Unheavenly City Revisited, asserted that the principal difference between the rich and the poor was their time horizon. The rich and the middle-class plan for the future while the poor live day-to-day. When you live day-to-day, you are dependent on others for hope. And thus, you are likely to be disappointed and unhappy. So you have to plan for the future. Get an education. Learn a craft or skill. But most important, continue to reinvent yourself. The world keeps changing and the education and skills you learned as a young person become less relevant every day. Even President Elect Trump reinvented himself multiple times (from real estate developer to reality TV star to a brand name).
So if you want to have hope, reinvent yourself. Don’t look to government. The best thing government can do is get out of your way (along with establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, [and] promote the general Welfare). The United States wasn’t created to provide benefits to its citizens. It was created to provide them the blessings of liberty. The biggest blessing of liberty is the ability for us to define our own aspirations and then go out and achieve them. That’s real hope. If other governments could provide hope people all over the world would not be scrambling to get here as fast as they can.
So there you have it. The Donald Trump presidency will be challenging but will also provide opportunities. Even for progressives. Just take a look at Michael Moore who appears to be resurrecting himself after years of irrelevancy under the Obama administration. So don’t despair Michelle. There is opportunity and hope. You just have to reinvent yourself.
p.s. I know I am going to get a lot of comments about god but bad things happen to good people and a lot of real assholes die with smiles on their faces.