The curtain falls on the Obama Era this week. It’s been a tremendous run in our country’s history. Eight years of positive economic growth. We started the era with a crisis that could have taken down the global economy, but with the hard work of President Obama, and many other leaders, we avoided a cataclysmic implosion.
2008 was rough year for many. Economically the country was frozen. Socially we were moving backwards with a movement to outlaw gay marriage and personally, well I was taking on the Mormons – they won – for a while. Obama came to power on the strength of his ideas, oratory and a social media organization that mobilized youth in a way that they hadn’t been previously.
This week we have a new administration coming in to take up the reins of power and to guide us through choppy waters as we face continued assaults on our humanity. One look at Syria, Israel, and the continued atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq and large swathes of Africa will show you that humans, don’t like humans very much.
We find myriad ways and reasons to point the finger of condemnation, and “otherness” so that it becomes easier to hate, disenfranchise and in far too many cases, kill. Humanity has always had a problem being humane. Today for good or bad, we have an easier time in both seeing the inhumanity, and of fostering the hate.
The breadth and depth of social media in our lives has made it possible to easily learn how the Hutus and the Tutsis have engaged in a genocide, but also why the Kentucky coal miners feel so ignored in our country. It is this ability to reach a mass audience with lightning speed has changed the way we handle politics in our country.
As we all live more and more of our lives online, it becomes easier to react, in support or condemnation, to each political statement. The time for reflection and deep thought has become shortened. Emotions enflame, poorly chosen words fly and people flee to their respective corners as they prepare to defend their positions.
Partisan politics has grown to a fever pitch with little room for discussion, let alone compromise, allowed. Our country has moved from the “We Can Do It!” mindset of the 1940’s sense of camaraderie, to the Hatfield and McCoy’s mentality that leads to decades of anger, hurts and insults.
The incoming administration speaks of the need for us to come together as a country after a bruising election – time will tell if they are uniters or dividers. The challenges faced by our country, let alone the planet, are many. We have a second industrial revolution going on and no one seems to know how to handle it. The loss of jobs to automation is creating record levels of functionally unemployed and it will not likely reverse course any time soon.
There are infrastructure problems galore, with dilapidated roadways, a too heavy reliance on fossil fuels and a population that needs education, healthcare and hope. There is a tremendous wave of job seekers in the millennials. They are at the cross-hairs of our needs: more contributors are needed to sustain the Social Security system, at the same time that we have less actual need for productive workers.
Historically we are due for another recession right about now. The indicators are that the economy has been growing and should be ready for a break, maybe it will happen and we’ll have a soft landing. Maybe we’ll have another freeze up like 2008. Maybe the economy will continue to grow.
No matter what happens, we will have a new administration, a new Congress and the road forward will continue for the American Experiment. Some people don’t like change, some people thrive on it.
Americans are resilient, we come from scrappy people. Most of us are of immigrant stock, one way or another, and that is our strength. These are anxious times when there is a changing of the guard. It will take a few months for the changes to shake out, and for us to find a new normal – and I have no doubt though that we will.
Because we have done it 44 times before.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra