Observations: Something good is in the air

Published on: January 5, 2012

Sunset from Little Harbor Resort in Ruskin. Mitch Traphagen Photo

Sunset from Little Harbor Resort in Ruskin. Mitch Traphagen Photo


There is no shortage of predictions for doom and gloom in 2012. According to doom-and-gloomists, here is how the year will play out:

There will be a total economic collapse and if you somehow survive that, you can pretty much count on being incarcerated into a secret FEMA concentration camp (for what reason exactly is never made clear), but you will have something to look forward to, your sentence will be relatively short because the entire world will end on December 21, 2012.

I have another take on 2012. I think there is something good in the air. It has been a long decade filled with fear and loathing, and I am convinced that people are ready to move on. People are ready for something good. I am also convinced that those who attempt to perpetuate the fear and loathing that has worn thin with the public will pay a price for it. No, not a physical violence sort of price, but for the narcissists and power brokers who use such tools, it will be a much higher price — they will be increasingly marginalized and ignored.

Somewhere in the past decade, we stepped away from our forefathers such as Patrick Henry who stated, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Beginning in 2001, fear turned to anger over terrorism and then fear over the economy settled deep into our collective mind and only recently has it turned to anger and, perhaps more accurately, disgust. A decade is a long time to be afraid and irate and that is no way to live.

As for the world ending, yeah, well good luck with that. People have been predicting the end of the world ever since people have trod the earth. It seems every few months a new prediction comes forth. Back on January 1, 1000, the people who left their jobs and abandoned their homes to prepare for Armageddon were probably a bit conflicted. No doubt, they were happy to be alive but were less than overjoyed about losing everything and having to start all over again. And, of course, the people who woke up in their bunkers in places like northern Wisconsin on January 1, 2000, no doubt felt the same. If there is one constant through the ages of human existence on this planet, it is the near glee people take in predicting its end. I guess we’re just nuts like that.

Last year was a bland, transitional year. Bits of good news were mixed with bits of bad news, and things ended pretty much where they started, except for one thing: optimism. I know with certainty the tide is turning against fear and loathing, and optimism is being carried in with the new tide. Yeah, we have problems — lots of them — but we also have the ability to deal with those problems. As a nation, we’ve turned around in worse times, we’ll do it again now. I can see it in faces, I can hear it in voices and I know the tide has turned. Despite everything, people are finding joy again. And why not? How has that fear and loathing thing worked out for you?

As a former employee of the House of Representatives, I’ve always taken blanket criticism of that institution with a grain of salt. I saw the blanket criticism as the words of people who felt both fear and loathing making ad hominem attacks against straw men. I’ve always considered myself pragmatic in how I view our representatives, and in thinking that Washington works pretty much as it should — slow and plodding, frustrating sometimes but always, in the end, with the right outcome for America. But now, I’ve changed my tune on that. I think we should fire them all, clean the slate and start from scratch with people who aren’t cynical narcissists looking out for themselves rather than their country and constituents.

I know full well there are good (and even great) representatives in Washington, but the institution as a body seems to have lost its mind and its purpose. When celebrities like Sean Penn become those actually having the fortitude to go out to make things happen in the world while our representatives bicker and exaggerate as the nation burns, well then, yeah — it’s time to fire them all. Or, at a minimum, we need to get involved to remind them for whom they really work. From my congressional experience, I can break the bad news that one or even a few dozen emails is not something that is going to register on the radar of an elected official. But a few thousand? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Oh yeah — that will leave a mark. And the best part is, we can do that — we can send that reminder. We simply need to remind them that it is time for them to sit down, shut the hell up, and listen to us for a change. Best of all, there’s no better time than an election year to remind them.

There are so many people in this country doing so many good things and it is time to celebrate them rather than to publicize the greedy egomaniacs and lunatics. I am sick to death of fear and loathing, and I know with absolute certainty that the best days of the United States of America are NOT behind us — they are still to come. You know that too, right? I know you can feel that. This nation is and always has been amazing. When we rise above the negative, we will build on the positive. I know it will happen. As individuals, we can make it happen in our own families and neighborhoods.

The examples are everywhere. They are in the men and women in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and at the fire department. They are in veteran’s organizations and the guy in the grocery store who offers to carry groceries for an elderly person. They are in our schools and in small businesses. Last week I spent time talking with Lee Stevens, a former president of the International Independent Showmen’s Association and organizer of the Gibsonton Circus that will take place this week. The circus is made up entirely of people donating their time and talent for the benefit of others. In talking to Lee, there was no doom and gloom; I could feel his optimism. I can feel it in nearly everyone I meet while running around South Hillsborough.

Yes, the tide has turned and I am certain 2012 is going to be the start of a new era in America, turning away from the negativity of the past decade towards a new day. We have so many reasons to be optimistic about the future and we have the ability to turn that optimism into reality. I’m convinced it has already begun. Borrowing from President Reagan, it’s morning again in America. Embrace a new feeling of optimism and share it with your family and neighbors. It is not naive, it is pragmatic and it will make a difference. We can do this.

Good morning my friends and Happy New Year!