The American state of mind: Apprehension, frustration, distrust, fear

How much longer will they take this kind of beating before we see a societal eruption?


Many Americans find themselves caught up in a troubled state of mind, possessing a great degree of uncertainty as to what is going to happen when this next administration and its leaders takes charge of this government; and how their lives are going to be affected.

This feeling of great concern and even dread of what may happen is intensified as they watch the current turmoil going on in our nation’s capital, even before the new administration takes over the reins of government. They have, for some time, been hoping for a government that exemplifies leadership, resolve, and a vision for the future, but what they see is one that is plagued by controversy, political turmoil, and mistrust between major elements.

Americans are watching the struggle between the CIA, FBI and various U.S. intelligence agencies on the one hand and the incoming Trump administration on the other. At a time when these elements should be closely working together they are, quite visibly, pulling in different directions.

On the surface the struggle seems to be directly involved with the accusations by these agencies against Russia; that it, and its leader Putin, interfered with America’s election process in order to try to influence the outcome; namely, to help to get Trump elected. But looking below the surface it appears to be one e involving control over the direction of America’s foreign policy, specifically related to Russia; and if it will be a cooperative or an adversarial relationship.

While we all can speculate as to what’s really going on and what the specific motives of each side may be we really don’t know; it is far too complex to determine at this time and so we can’t predict how the situation will be resolved.

Let’s talk about the current state of mind of the American people and the emotions that are triggered by what they see going on in Washington DC.

Apprehension and Uncertainty: for some time many Americans have been extremely displeased with the direction into which this current government has been taking their country. They are more than concerned that things could grow even worse as they listen to Trump and the Republican leadership outlining the plans by which they intend to govern this nation.

What exactly is Mr. Trump going to do, will he make rational-minded, carefully thought-out decisions or is he going to “shoot from the hip” as many expect him to do? They have never seen an incoming president that is surrounded by so much controversy. And the greatest apprehension about what he is going to do has to exist among this country’s minorities, African Americans, Hispanic immigrants and, especially, within the Muslim community.

Muslims, no doubt, are fearful about what Trump might do to them and how will adversely affect their lives. Are they going to find themselves under continuous government surveillance, is Trump actually going to make good on his promise to create a Muslim registry?

Fear: instead of seeing the House and the Senate Republican leadership in the process of developing a plan with specific objectives and key priorities to solve this country’s many problems we hear them stating that they fully intend to repeal Obamacare even though they have no plan to replace it. Millions of Americans fear that this will happen and then the next targets of the GOP will be Social Security and Medicare.

Distrust: Americans have little to no trust in the U.S. Congress or most of the members of both parties that refuse to work together for the good of this country and its people. They have watched in frustration as the Republican Party has used tactics of obstruction, including the continuous use of Senate vetoes, to try to control the legislative agenda. They are also very disillusioned when they see weak-kneed Democrats cave into these tactics and refuse to stand up and fight for what is right.

Controversy and Confusion: When in its history has this nation seen this government in such a state of turmoil and confusion? What has happened since this presidential election ended is absolutely incomprehensible.

The Congress, Republicans in particular, clearly have a lot of contrasting opinions about whether or not the Russians directly interfered in the election. Significant doubts exist about the evidence presented by U.S. intelligence agencies, together with great concerns over the possibility of collusive activities between the Trump and his advisers and Russia. Many Americans want to be supportive of Trump but they are troubled by his staunch support of Russia and Putin who they consider to be highly dangerous to America.

In this question of possible Russian involvement James Comey, head of the FBI, could be exposed as having deliberately taken misguided actions that placed him in the center of the election process when he, once again, brought up the issue of the Clinton emails at the last minute. To think that someone with his highly important responsibilities could possibly do this to pave the way for Trump’s election is hard to believe but is not inconceivable.

Frustration, Disillusionment: President Obama often talks about the greatness of America and its exceptionalism. Well that doesn’t sit very well with Americans who are very angry and frustrated because their jobs have been transferred to China and other overseas nations or those who now have to work for far lower wages and may have two or even three jobs to make ends meet; or are highly dependent on food stamps or live below the poverty line.

It doesn’t lessen the frustration of the 42 million current and former college students who are weighed down by a student loan debt of over $1.3 trillion, or the ones who graduate and then find it extremely difficult to find a decent job. It’s fully understandable that these many Americans who are struggling to survive are frustrated and disillusioned when they see their incomes stagnating or spiraling downward while the profits of U.S. corporations continue to increase.

Why would these Americans think that they are living in the greatest country in the world? Maybe they need to come to the realization that this is a new America and that they must now adjust to living in what is referred to as the New Normal; a term that the Urban Dictionary defines as “The current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state after an event occurs. The New Normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been.”

Trying to rationalize away the plight of these Americans who live under tremendous stress and difficulty by hoping that the will accept the New Normal is not going to work. It has no chance of working when they see almost all of the new income generated in this country continue to flow to those who are at the top of the income spectrum. How much longer will they take this kind of beating before we see a societal eruption?

All of the above examples represent clear evidence of the apprehension, confusion, distrust and frustration that a large portion of the American people feel as they watch what is going on in this country and, specifically, with this government that has totally failed them in their great time of need.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.