There’s a lot of fretting going on about the election, and many people are flat-out scared about the state of the union in general. On Wednesday of this week roughly half the country will be down in the dumps because their guy lost. Next Wednesday, the other half will be a nervous wreck because they’ll realize that their guy has to somehow fix a terrible economy. Both sides will continue to wonder if we’ve reached a new status quo, or if things will start to turn around. I’ve never heard so many expressions of worry and consternation over the future of our country as I’ve heard over the past six months.
Frankly, I’m just about sick of it all. Worrying about things we can’t change is a waste of time and mental energy. There are no positive results to worry – only negative. It’s a self-imposed unnecessary stress in an already-stressful world. The Bible tells us not to worry, and for good reason: it serves no logical or otherwise worthwhile purpose. But, I understand that our human limitations make it difficult to avoid worry altogether. Some people are just pre-wired to sit around nervously twiddling their thumbs and shaking their heads. If you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about the election or about the future of our country, let me share some thoughts and offer some suggestions that might help ease your mind:
1. The United States isn’t going anywhere. We hear a lot of talk in the media about the so-called “American decline,” and that is to be expected in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn and subsequent recession. If you believe the hype, then China and Russia are nipping at our heels and will very soon leave us in the dust. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The United States remains enormously, overwhelmingly powerful – the only existing superpower – and that will not change any time soon. The United States’ economy is larger than the next four economies combined. The United States’ navy controls all of the world’s oceans. In fact, no other navy comes close to matching its power. Because of this, no ship sails and no maritime trade happens anywhere on the planet without US consent. The Chinese economy is a deck of cards destined to fail. If you are genuinely concerned about the future of America, I encourage you to read The Next 100 Years by George Friedman. It will open your eyes to the realities of America’s future.
2. The President really doesn’t have that much power, anyway. Compared to many other leaders over the course of history, the United States President has surprisingly little domestic power. The true genius of the founding fathers was in the creation of the three balanced branches of government: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The Legislative branch passes all of the laws that govern us, and by all accounts the Senate and House of Representatives will remain controlled by the Democrats and Republicans, respectively – so, balanced. Although I have a strong preference in this year’s Presidential election, I am comforted by the thought that whoever is elected will always have one hand tied behind his back due to the other two branches of government curtailing his power. As Friedman says, no matter who is elected President, he or she will always be dropped in the middle of an ongoing chess game, and will be hamstrung in that he or she will have very few possible moves.
3. Remember what we have. The United States is an exceptionally great country, but we oftentimes take it for granted. The fact that we have peaceful transitions of power every four or eight years is very, very significant. This is a luxury many war-torn and non-democratic countries long to have. The majority of the world’s population has no representative voice in their form of government – they are ruled, not governed. We may worship freely. We may speak freely. We may travel from state to state freely. We may not all live in mansions, but overall we are very wealthy. Our incredible abundance of natural resources means that other countries will continue to seek out and buy our energy, which will make us even richer in the coming decades. We have the greatest and most coveted university system in the world. Our military power is unmatched. Those of us who live here may not realize it, but on the day we were born, we hit the jackpot. We should give thanks to God every day, from whom all of these blessings flow.
I hope that these thoughts will help ease the minds of you worriers out there. Admittedly, there are things going on in our country we should be concerned about. There are things we should pray about. However, I don’t believe the future is nearly as bleak as some would want you to believe. No man or woman will ever have the power to bring down the United States on his or her own. Ultimately, God is in control, and the fate of our country rests in his hands. And, I’m quite comfortable with that. The United States is a great country – flawed, no doubt – but great. I’m a patriot and I’m proud to live here, and I’m very optimistic about the future of the United States no matter the result of tomorrow’s election.