THE BLOG

Citizen Confidence -- are Americans Having "Honeymoon Blues?"

03/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In last week's post, I spoke a bit about the new umbrella called Positive Psychology and how it is drawing top level scientists and researchers to contribute a new frontier of how to focus on our wellness or happiness, instead of our illness -- (see post here).

One idea I'd like to explore further is how to track America's 'Well-Being' at any given time. We have methods to track how much we spend and how many jobs we have lost, but how does it affect us all emotionally? What is the status of our "Citizen Confidence?"

I admire the forward thinking of the Huff Po with the dedication of the Living section to the Inner Life, the Giving Life and the Balanced Life. How is our Inner Life, our enthusiasm and confidence affected with the frustrating and disheartening "Business as usual" on Capitol Hill?

More American's than ever are daily tuning into politics, after such a historic election turn out. We were inspired like never before. Yet, this string of stumbles in confirming Obama's cabinet with tax evasion issues, the impeachment of the Illinois Governor and a zero republican vote of support for the bailout bill is absolutely having an impact on our Well Being, thank you very much. This is not part of our happy ending story.

The presidential inauguration reminded me of a really fine wedding. The American people and the Obama family have had a love affair for a year during the campaign, got engaged with a big diamond and celebration at the election, and finally walked down the aisle in the biggest wedding our nation has ever seen. Everyone came to the celebration. I am talking all the relatives in this big blended family were there, and it was a blast. Moving into the White House has never been so exciting.

We all ran out under a flurry of white rice and dashed off in a shiny new car to celebrate our honeymoon together. As citizens, we're committed to get active in this marriage and do our part to wash a few toilets, clean a few dishes and remember to put the top back on the toothpaste, as all newly weds do. We're ready to confront the crumbling economy, tackle health care, go green and rebuild our standing around the globe.

I also imagine the selection of the new Cabinet members to be something like inheriting "in-laws" for the next few years, to share our dining room table. Naturally we are all on our best behavior and ready to welcome in the crowd. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed to get in without too much ado, and she lit the place on fire with her strong team building skills and has the State Dept. jumping for joy. She took the first seat and we were ready for more.

Now, we had a seat ready for Bill Richardson. Ooops. Nope. Can't put him in for Commerce Secretary. Too bad, he was perfect. How about this seat here for our Treasury Secretary? Well, Senator Geithner almost lost his seat with that "little tax problem". I guess we can forgive him, because we really do need him with the economy in shambles and all.

How about that seat for Health and Human Services Secretary? Uh oh. Senator Daschle had to leave the table entirely yesterday with his tax embarassment. Not that health care matters much I suppose. And also yesterday, another fine potential "in-law", Nancy Killefer, had to withdraw her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer, due to botched payroll taxes on her household help. That's three who had to leave the table and three that have had major tax issues. Some performance.

Please, can't the honeymoon last a little longer? I'm not ready for it to end. It took a lot after Bush for us to get our hopes up and get hitched in the first place. I am not sure this newlywed bliss is ready for the partisan beating, delays and the frustrations. We had our swoon, and now are we crashing?

The high after the inauguration to the recent string of either blatant dishonesty, or over scrutinized confirmations, disheartens us at a deep inner level that affects our confidence, our willingness to stay involved, and quite frankly leaves our collective hope on fragile ground. How does our emotional response stay buoyed? Clearly no one can get through a Senate approval unscathed. What average American could? But we want a team. Now. We want our dining room table filled with people we can believe in -- just like that guy we put at the head of the table.

What is the modern lifespan of societal hope? Jobs are tanking and the fear in our bellies is gnawing deeper and deeper every day. How long will American's continue to believe that "Yes we can" if at every turn Washington wags it's finger and says, "Oh, no you can't?" How does this dysfunctional family environment affect about ability to stay motivated and move forward?

Maybe the only way for our Citizen Confidence and societal well-being to remain intact is to set up another table. Keep the fancy dining room for traditional formal meals like Thanksgiving with all the hoopla to get there; but maybe we need a kitchen table nook with trusted uncles like Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and our buddy Warren Buffet to get down with a beer and a napkin style plan to get things done.

After all, everyone knows all the action in any house happens in the kitchen.

How is your Inner Life and Citizen Confidence doing right now? Are you in honeymoon bliss or blues? What do you think of our dining table of Cabinet members? How can we keep our active participation alive in the face of current pitfalls? I'd love to hear your comments.