Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has a column today in the Indianapolis Star entitled "A Rude awakening from the American dream." He, like most of us, is bewildered by the economic upheavals and wonders if this means that the U.S. will become poorer and if the "next generation of Americans [will] lead lives of less affluence and comfort."
"I want to know if this is some kind of financial reckoning for the way we've been living so far beyond our means. Is the bartender finally presenting us the bill for our tab?"
He worries, as we all do, that this economic crisis "may be more than just an episode."
"I'm worried that what's at stake is not just a few years of lost economic growth, but our traditional notion of the American dream."
He wants straight talk from Obama and McCain.
"Don't give me empty words about American exceptionalism. Tell me in plain language what our new place is in the world and how we're going to give our children the good life that we've enjoyed."
I second all of these sentiments by Mr. Robinson, but I fear the answers are not what he would like to hear. We do need straight talk and truthtelling from our leaders, but it will mean facing up to the reality that the U.S. place in the world will be diminished, and our children will not have the affluence that we have enjoyed--mostly on borrowed money. But a good life can be built on other things than consumerism and instant gratification.