Optimism in America?

America optimism

One thing which has always struck me about America, and it is one of the reasons that FDR and President Reagan stand so pre-eminent, is that it is built on optimism. When you think of the situation of the Founding Fathers, goodness, what a leap of faith! They literally laid their lives on the line in a fight for independence against the great British Empire with its huge military might; but they triumphed. Their Republic consisted of twelve States on the eastern edge of a great, and largely unexplored Continent, with French and Spanish territory to the south and south-west; Louisiana essentially barred the route westward; Spanish Mexico barred the route to the south. Yet, within fifty years of the founding of the Republic, these barriers had vanished.

West of the Missouri, however, despite Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, was more or less terra incognita, and even within the United States, tension was growing between the slave-holding States and the Free, so much so that by the 1860s, the Republic was tearing itself apart in one of the bloodiest of civil wars. Until the end of World War II there was hardly a decade when Bruce Springsteen’s lines about having ‘no work, because of the economy’ were not true; forty-odd years of exceptional prosperity in a material sense may have inculcated the belief that somehow the Republic’s people would always live on easy street – but that, whilst being part of the American hope, was never necessarily something most people actually achieved; you only have to look at the history of the Irish and Italian immigrants to see how it was for many first generation ‘Americans’; and of the suffering of the slaves, well, that is indeed a scar on the conscience.

But, despite of these things, America got on with it. Shady politicians? Crooked businessmen and bankers with their hold over the politicians? Politicians who were in it for themselves? Pork-barrelling? Faction fighting? Bitter insults hurled by political opponents at each other?  These are not new, these are American history; and you know what? America is bigger than them all. Sure, there are worrying developments – that FDR and his attempts to use SCOTUS to put in place that socialistic ‘New Deal’, with that Communist Wallace and Harry Hopkins, that really worries me! What’s that, that happened in the 1930s? Oh well, I mean Obama and Pelosi – except they don’t have an ounce of the talent and drive of FDR and his ‘Brains Trust’. The Great Republic remains standing. Does that mean that the fears of FDR’s opponents were wrong? Or does it mean that their vigilance stopped the worst happening? Or does it mean that the realities of America proved too great even for FDR’s ambitions? I confess I don’t know.

But what I do know is that at his first election Obama spotted something important – he knew that the American people are optimists, ‘can do’ people; after all, how many of their ancestors would have been there had they not been so?  So when he ran on a rhetoric of ‘hope’ he struck an authentic chord in the American people. It was one his opponents did not catch and still show insufficient sign of catching. It is all very well to call Obama out for being pretty useless, and to prophesy that the skies will darken and the waters rise and doom will fall upon the land; but is it a political programme to put before a People founded on the optimistic dreams of a bunch of guys who, if they’d calculated, would have paid the tax on tea and gotten on with feathering their nests?

I am an outsider who loves America. But I can’t help thinking that unless President Obama’s opponents get away from negativity (after all, if people feel, as they do, negative about him, they don’t need to be told to feel it) and offer a vision of the America its people recognise as optimistic, then for all her many faults, it will be Hillary in ’16. At which point, even my capacity to be Sunny will vanish 🙂


About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

9 Responses to Optimism in America?

  1. Reblogged this on The Grey Enigma.


  2. Indeed myself as a conservative Brit living in the So Cal (OC) right now, I just don’t see the positive base of conservatism here, and they tell me this was the place of the “Bircher’s”, i.e. the John Birch Society at one time? I have met a few Tea Party people here locally, but they don’t appear that organized per se. It seems to me that conservatism needs more ideological feet and desire, at least.. as to what we called in the military, “boots on the ground”. And where I live is pretty up-scale, and rather a white community. Sadly it appears that many of these people, in the 20-30 crowd, and I am talking about the OC, just don’t care politically? This is just my perception however, again I sure hope I am wrong and out of touch perhaps? But I just don’t see much full-blown optimism here, and especially with conservatives.


    • NEO says:

      I hate to say it Fr., but I doubt you’re going to in the OC. If you sneak over into the heartland, heck even parts of Nevada, you’ll find us, although we tend to be chary of anything identified with Cali-they keep bringing their politics with them, they’ve already pretty much ruined Colorado and are working on Texas.

      Most of us have written off Cali, it’s going to crash and burn messily, and we can’t fix it. Buy popcorn (and Ammo).


      • We actually live up in Yorba Linda, a sort of old OC town they say. ‘Land of Gracious Living’ , as they call it themselves. Which has some beautiful homes! Across the way is Anaheim Hills, which has some older churches. Though of course the Anglicans or as you Americans call it, “Episcopalians”. Which I have rarely set foot in! There are some conservative Lutherans I have seen and even got to preach to, much more to my own conservative places, and I do like (very much) The Lutheran Confessions! But there is also a John MacArthur satellite Church in Anaheim Hills we like to slip into, called “Kindred”..it is rather large too. But we are more “incognito” there, a Reformed Low Church Anglican, what is that? 😉

        Yes, I am rather quiet too about my political places, since I am a Brit, and an old RMC. Most Americans think all of the British are liberals, rather. And sadly most Americans don’t have a clue to the British Parliament! As you know we have more than just two parties! 😉 My conservatism is much more personal and even interior, than any political so-called party! But of course I see it as part of my own Judeo-Christian place, both theologically and personally. I’m not a joiner really of things. 🙂 But I a most certainly a conservative!

        Btw, we came here mostly for my wife’s health and the ability to see the doctors of our choice. My wife has chronic COPD. But my desire is for Canada, Victoria, sometime in the future. But I must leave that to God’s good providence!


        • I am still a Brit., though a conservative one! 😉


        • Note too, I am always that “eclectic” in just about everything! Save perhaps my conservatism, which however is not strictly American. I say this in a friendly manner, and I hope you get my point? 🙂


        • NEO says:

          The two churches can be good partners. The pastor that supervised my joining the Lutheran church was a High Church Episcopalian (why they don’t call themselves Anglican-I have no clue).

          I’m an independant myself, although I’m registered as a repub-if I want any input locally I have to vote in that primary. 🙂 I’m still learning about your parties (British) and it’s pretty interesting. Most brit conservatives don’t come off as that conservative anymore although there are some, and strangely the ones I know are mostly educators.

          Cali is beautiful with a great climate, different politics and a lot of us would like to be there. It’s so hard to believe anymore that Reagan was a Californian


        • Yes, the only workable and theological Anglican group that has been faithful, besides the classic Anglican Evangelicals, (always Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer!) has been the Anglo-Catholics. But here I can only speak generally. Note, I was at one time quite High Church Anglican! And I have always been somewhat close to the EO on Christology and the Trinity of God.

          I would come close to some form of the British Libertarian ideas and party, but I don’t like the American version so much. Note John Locke had both conservative and libertarian ideas. And the British have simply had to have something of a coalition government to survive and get things done. But their moral ethics, and lack of the Judeo-Christian ethic, is all too real today! And the so-called monarchy is quite a joke to say the least! I am of course for some aspect of a social and visible monarchy, but not this old school version! Of course I am an Irish Brit! From an Irish Republic! 😉 (Note again, I am usually Old School on almost everything! But not the British Monarchy!)

          Old Ronald Reagan, now there was a conservative, and a leader!

          (Btw, RIP for Joan Mondale, both her and her husband were pretty devout Christian Presbyterians (PCUSA, I think?)


        • http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/14/world/europe/coalition-governing-could-be-britains-new-normal-despite-liberal-democrats-troubles.html?_r=0


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