Washington pundits and politicians have a habit of equating America’s collective political mood with our feelings about our own lives. When Americans say the country is “on the wrong track” — as three-quarters of us now say — the pundits proclaim that Americans are in a “funk” or a “sour mood.” When approval ratings for Congress or the president are in the toilet, news reports call Americans “angry” and the climate “poisonous.” But walk along any American Main Street during Christmas week and you’ll find the atmosphere is hardly poisonous, the mood far from sour.
Obviously, dissatisfaction with the government is hugely important in political terms, and politics are significant. But Washington needs to get over itself. Very few people define their lives politically — a fact for which we should all be grateful.
Imagine if the consumer research division of McDonald’s found that a majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the golden arches or felt that the fast-food industry was on the “wrong track.” No one at Hamburger University would conclude that Americans were in a foul mood. So when voters say they’re unhappy with government, why does that mean Americans are in a bad mood?
What's more important? The list is very long: family, health, God, friends and neighbors, work, travel, good books, good food and the internet come to mind in no particular order.