Let's Press Reset on Rush & Co.: We Need Practical Optimism from the Chattering Class -- Now

04/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

I have degrees from Harvard and Stanford, am an anchor on a major network, have a little money in the bank, and I'm young. By all accounts, I should be able to survive this recession. But even my confidence is shaken. We're not in a good place. The reality of the matter is, bad as things are, we all know they're likely to get worse. Much worse--both overseas and in the poorest areas here in the US.

It all comes back to 30-40: Our homes were overvalued 30-40%, our salaries are being cut 30-40% (if we still have them), our portfolios, when they finally rebound, will still be down 30-40%. Like any sane person in his 30s or 40s, I'm starting to wonder the obvious: What will it take to turn things around? One answer is signs--about 6-10 million of the "help wanted" variety. But another part of the solution just came to me last night.

The answer is Rush Limbaugh. Yes, that Rush, the Man from Missouri. Because what he reminded us of in the last few weeks is what will keep most of us down: negativity and mindless carping. Beyond a banking fix or a housing plan, our floundering $12 trillion economy needs a fundamental reset of the public commentator class. And I predict we will see that over the next six months, from YouTube to CNN, Twitter to the site you're reading. I genuinely think America is hungry for practical optimism. I know I am.

This new class of public commentators will be distinguished not by their ability to describe the depths of our pain, but by their capacity for offering clear, compelling, credible visions of how individuals, companies, governments, and groups can move beyond it. They will be people of accomplishment who can help us find practical ways ahead, entrepreneurs and writers who can both build a business and tell a good story. We'll respond to them because they are not hype entertainers, but sharp, clear, relatable visionaries who can help us see how we can truly turn things around in this challenging environment.

I like Suze Orman, but I'm not talking about her. I like Professor Nouriel Roubini, but I'm not talking about him. I'm picturing Steve Jobs and Lou Gerstner--imagine those two on a split-screen breaking down the economy. Think I'm joking? Then you're forgetting the outsized role that J.P. Morgan (the man, not his bank) played following the panic of 1907, or the role that the "new" Southern Governors played after the tumultuous 1960s, or the role that John Steinbeck played as we came out of the Depression. We need help turning the page. We need a dramatic revolution in our public commentators. We need Buddy Fletcher, Arte Moreno, Sheryl Sandberg, and others to become the next chattering class.

Who would you like to see on the airwaves? Let me know at twitter.com/carloswatson.