It’s not just about dollars and cents

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, September 11, 2012

James Carville, a ragin’ Cajun if there has ever been one, is given credit for keeping the focus of Bill Clinton’s 1992 winning presidential campaign on the economy. He would say, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

This year, at the top of the list of driving issues in the minds of the American electorate is the struggling, anemic economy. Not only is the economy at the top at the list, the next three issues are kin to it: jobs, the national debt, and rising costs of healthcare. All of these issues have to do with our pocketbooks or checkbooks, wherever we carry our fortunes or lack thereof.

Having written that, I don’t think that the economy is all that our fellow Americans are thinking about when they are polled and say that they are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. A large percentage (in the high 60s) is just not comfortable with the direction of the country.

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That’s not a new phenomenon. I took a quick view of that subject, dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, and found that, for a long time, through different administrations, the polling was consistent. We have been unsure of our direction and footing for a long time.

No doubt, when good times, and by that I mean a strong economy, are present, they serve as a salve for many problems. When the economy sinks our thoughts return to many underlying deficiencies in our country.

An analogy that might work is the phrase that many of us have stated when we are talking to friends who might be going through a rough patch. Business-wise, they might be struggling and are discouraged. We look to help their feelings by saying something like, “Well, at least you’ve got your health.”

By that we don’t mean that everything is suddenly okay, but that when our physical strength is in good shape and we simply feel good, physically, our challenges can be met with greater determination. It is a real blessing to have good health and many things can be overcome because of it.

I think what I am trying to say is that, somehow, we feel that our country is not well and it is not just a matter of a sick economy. If the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the country were stronger, there would be hope that, no matter what troubles we have, we can meet them with our best efforts.

There is a different feeling today. Our economy is struggling, but that’s not the biggest problem. Our real problem is health. We are simply not healthy and that is something that is beyond a presidential election.