Doom and gloom dominate our politics on a national level. Every political disagreement becomes an existential battle, and every policy debate is portrayed as the final showdown between good and evil.
Within this extreme partisanship, there’s an anxiety that has come to shape how we think about our country.
Some of this anxiety is justified. We are in the middle of a debate about more than policy. As a country, we have fundamentally different views on where we want to go and what our values are. The results of the political process in the next decade are going to decisively shape that trajectory.
Totally focusing on that debate has blinded us to the overarching progress we have had as a country and to the strength of our democratic system. We are more than our current struggles in the political realm.
The United States is still an economic powerhouse.
We have four percent of the world’s population and produce more than 15 percent of the world’s wealth in GDP.
Our agriculture sector is unbeatable. The U.S, in particular the Midwest, is the most productive farming region in the history of the world.
Our economy has continued to grow, and while the growth needs to be more robust and wages need to be increased, more Americans are working now than ever before. There’s still much work to be done, but the pie is growing, not shrinking, for all Americans.
In short, any story about the decline and fall of the U.S. is a little premature.
Beyond our economic status, we are a strong nation because of the strength of our individual communities.
In the early 1800s, a Frenchman named Alexis De Tocqueville toured the then-young U.S. republic and commented that the strength of the U.S. as a nation was due to our ability to self govern at a local level.
That statement is as true today as it was 200 years ago.
No matter how you feel about national politics, anyone can make change at a local level by getting involved and working to solve the problems of your neighbors and community.
De Tocqueville also commented that because of our involvement in local communities we had a broad base of potential leaders for our state and national governments.
Being involved in local government is not just about local issues. It’s about training the next generation of men and women who will lead the nation.
We are strong beyond what happens in Washington, D.C., because of our community organizations, churches, schools and businesses.
So the next time there is a spot on CNN or a story on Facebook about the end of the U.S., take a step back from the rhetoric. Our nation is still strong, whatever the talking heads say.
If that’s not enough though, take the time to get involved in your local community and work to solve problems you care about. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up working to solve the problems that made you turn off the television in the first place.