Finding Hope in Hard Times

Despite daily doses of bad news, the time is ripe to reinvigorate politics

| March / April 2003

MANY DAYS I SCOOT my chair back from the breakfast table in a daze, stunned and upset at the morning headlines. “Bush Economic Package Heavily Favors Wealthy,” “Research Offers More Evidence of Global Warming,” “Broad Public Support for War,” “Deep Cuts in Social Spending Foreseen.” A rush of emotions swirl through my still-sleepy head as I try to make sense of the world.

It’s not the bad news that gets me. Having lived through Vietnam, Watergate, the energy crisis, Reaganomics, Iran-Contra, Newt Gingrich, the Clinton impeachment, and the 2000 election, I am accustomed to bad news. It’s the lack of effective opposition to what’s going on that troubles me. Again and again, some ill-advised, unjust or outright dangerous initiative out of Washington or corporate America is met with criticism from Democratic politicians and public interest groups. Liberal commentators convincingly (at least to me) dissect why it’s a terrible idea, and there may be some protests. But that’s about it. The public momentum needed to challenge right-wing policies never seems to build, and before long I’m facing another front page photo of George W. Bush celebrating a political victory as I eat my oatmeal.