Afraid of optimism

How important is optimism to the country’s economy?

The obvious answer is that citizens who are worried about their economic future are not going to invest nor purchase very many consumer goods. They are going to sock their money away to prepare for the rainy day they believe is coming.

So how important is the countenance of our leaders? What effects do scowls from a president or a party leader have on our economy?

Our political heroes – Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan – projected an air that through sheer optimism, good would triumph. Roosevelt and Reagan replaced leaders who – to put it lightly – put out an air of defeatism.

Remember Jimmy Carter’s famous “malaise” speech? It was the only time we can remember a president blaming the citizenry – instead of its leaders – for a country’s problems. It deepened the “stagflation” that was gripping the country and led to Reagan’s election.

Roosevelt’s predecessor – Herbert Hoover – reacted to the stock market crash by increasing taxes on both individuals and corporations. In his 1932 re-election campaign he hinted that Democrats were intentionally destroying the economy. He got only 37 percent of the vote and Roosevelt was the new president.

Throughout their careers, the message from Roosevelt and Reagan was, “The United States will emerge on top.” Their optimism infected the country.

It may seem simplistic. But when was the last time you saw a beaming smile from President Obama? Or Speaker of the House John Boehner?

Contrast that with Roosevelt, Reagan or even John Kennedy.

If the president has nothing to smile about, what joy is there for his constituents?

There is a lot to be said for cosmetics. And even more to be said for genuine joy.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.