Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 12, 2012

What will it take to cheer up America, and to get us into the Christmas spirit

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Maybe there is just a lot of skepticism in the world at the moment, but hope seems to be a somewhat fleeting sentiment. Instead, it is being replaced by darkness, uncertainty and in some instances anger. We saw a lot of that anger during the past election cycle, and it continues in Washington as we still don’t have a deal between Democrats and Republicans over the looming fiscal cliff. If a deal isn’t reached, taxes will go up, and paychecks will go down, come Jan. 1 for millions upon millions of Americans. And a second recession will be likely.

What happened to all of the hope we as a nation had back in 2008? Why do so many people suddenly have such a pessimistic view of our future? That gloomy outlook is reflected in many ways by our actions, and even by what we are watching on television. “Doomsday Preppers.” “The Walking Dead.” “Revolution.” All three are major hits on television, and all three deal with subject matters that are far from cheery. One show deals with the zombie apocalypse, the other details a future world without electricity and hope. The third is a reality show dealing with real people preparing for well, doomsday, as the title of “Doomsday Preppers” would suggest.

When will we as a nation get out of this period of gloomy despair? The election is over. Shouldn’t we all be cheery. No more crazy campaign commercials after all. Maybe folks are still waiting to see what will happen. Will a still divided Congress really allow our nation to go over the dreaded fiscal cliff come Dec. 31? To do so would certainly be political suicide. And voters wouldn’t forget this come two years from now — especially after their taxes go up and their paychecks go down. Maybe we are simply waiting for our national economy to improve before we get out of this prolonged bad mood that many have been experiencing. It is true that we do need a little bit of good news to help cheer folks up. The royal baby is a good start — although I understand a few people are apparently angry over this as well. Why, I might ask? Maybe we need a big national wedding. But I’m not aware of anyone famous — or semi-famous — planning to get married or even divorced in the next few weeks.  But a nationally televised wedding would work — and would certainly be better than the “Buckwild” mess MTV is promoting. What ever happened to promoting good morals values, and good Christian behavior? Instead, we get a bunch of young people trying to make West Virginia look bad on national television. Thanks a lot MTV.

 But what other happy headlines could help cheer folks up? News that Santa Claus is preparing for his annual journey from the North Pole despite the whole fiscal cliff and polar shift thing. Word that Baby New Year is once again prepared to deliver bundles of joy just in time for 2013. Bowl game victories come Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 for both the Virginia Tech Hokies and the West Virginia Mountaineers — helping to erase the painful memories of the ugly losing streaks both teams endured back in October. Or perhaps simply snow for Christmas. That would make some people happy, and of course others who have to travel home for the holidays a little bit upset. But I’ll admit there is something magical about having fresh snow on the ground on Christmas morning.

Yes, the darkness will eventually be lifted. Our nation will slowly get out of this prolonged period of despair and anger. We have to. You can’t stay angry, or depressed, forever. Anger is a bad thing to hold on to. The mood of our national electorate should improve with time. Unless our sage lawmakers in Washington allow this whole fiscal cliff mess to carry into 2013. If that is allowed to happen, then we would have no choice but to vote all the rascals out in 2014, and the remainder of the bums in 2016.

So in a way I can see why folks are in a bad mood. It’s hard to get excited about the future, and to go out and spend a lot of money Christmas shopping when we still don’t know if Congress will get its act together, and learn how to compromise again. If lawmakers allow this unnecessary drama to continue all the way up until Christmas, folks will be less inclined to spend lavishly and retailers will suffer during the all-important shopping season due. And folks will still be in a bad mood. Especially if our taxes go up, our checks go down, and “Buckwild’ proves to be as bad as that trailer would suggest. At that point, your local congressman or congressmanwoman will become known as the grinch who stole Christmas.

And MTV, by the way, should go back to playing music videos. I miss those.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him at BDTOwens.