The Era of Good Feelings?
The term was used in the 1820s. The Enlightenment had delivered all sorts of promising gifts for a better future. Americans could look upon their new lands with great hope. They had fought a second war with Britain and they did not lose (they didn’t really win either…), and whatever troubles were brewing in Europe were first of all far away, and secondly ebbing.
Now, we see many different good signs. Congress is making progress on an actual major bill that could get votes from both sides of the isle on immigration. Rand Paul is even considering joining the fray on immigration. And people from both parties actually considered the content to Rand’s filibuster on drones as somewhat coherent and rational. Obama has restored some relations and confidence in Israel and the Middle East. There is a little bit of confidence on relations with Iran. There is – at least – some meaningful dialogue on reducing gun violence. The Republicans have admitted they are too full of old white guys and perhaps too full of manure too often, too. Housing, unemployment, the stock market and consumer confidence are on the mend. A bipartisan bill was passed on violence against women. Hillary joined the fast-growing club whose members approve of same sex marriage. To top things off, most people seem to like the new Pope!
The specifics on all of these issues remain, and when pressed, many elements can fall apart. We still get party line votes on budget issues. The Republicans did a sort of end-run on the Sequester. Some states are passing draconian anti-abortion bills. The Supreme Court that upheld Obama Care is Supreme Court is soon to rule on several controversial – no, divisive – issues.
We are not completely on the gravy train at present. And by mid- century, America was headed to a great Civil War. So what’s the public to do?
Professor Harold Hill said, in The Music Man, “Isn’t it exciting, Eulalie?”
And Eulalie Shinn (Who is rarely anything close to tongue tied, and quite able with gossip) says, “Oh, I couldn’t say. I could not say. Oh no. I could not say, at this time. My husband will wish to investigate, I’m sure. And naturally I’m reticent. Oh yes, I’m reticent.”
“Of course, Mrs. Shinn, I understand.”