Leonard Zwelling

         I know depression. First hand. You know the real thing—requiring drug therapy and all the rest. I managed to avoid ECT, but believe me, I know depression. Today, I am not depressed. I’m sad.

         I am not full of emptiness as much as full of sorrow. What has happened to the country I love over the past twenty years? Not much good.

         Perhaps it all began when the 2000 presidential election was so close it virtually divided the country down the middle. Just like now, both candidates in 2000 left a lot to be desired but both Bush 43 and Al Gore were sharper than Trump and Biden. Then, shortly after that came 9/11 and irrefutable evidence that not only was America vulnerable to off shore attacks, but also it could then, in response, do the craziest of things and invade both Afghanistan and Iraq where we are still bogged down to this day and no safer than we were in 2001. It was as if we leaned nothing from Vietnam. But we are surely weaker for we have given over blood and treasure in losing causes in parts of the world where we really have very little interest. I mean really. What do we expect to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq?

         In 2008, we had “hope and change.” Eight years later, we had neither. Mr. Obama did nothing to advance the cause of Black Americans despite being the first Black president. How can that possibly be? But, alas, it is so. He also weakened our standing in the world with an approach to foreign policy that reeked of globalism despite it not being good for America. And he even got a Nobel Prize for it, perhaps the first ever given for having accomplished absolutely nothing.

         Then came 2016. The Democrats were determined that Hillary Clinton was going to follow the first Black president by being the first woman. The American people thought otherwise. I am not sure if another woman could have beaten Trump, but Hillary couldn’t, especially running one of the worst campaigns in presidential political history while being undermined by the Director of the FBI and probably Vladimir Putin. She was also undermined by the desire of many for a non-politician as a leader.

Then came 2020.

In what will probably go down as the worst six months in the history of the country since the Civil War, America has been roiled first by the coronavirus, then by the indecision about what to do about the coronavirus, then by the secondary effects of the coronavirus on the economy, and then by the death of George Floyd unleashing a wave of public protests that has both spread the virus (thanks, all) and still not articulated what the protesters want. We are not going to defund the police. That’s stupid. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the anti-police protests, crime is on the rise. Once again, thanks guys. I don’t want to defund the police. Retrain them? Fine, but I want to increase funding to the police. In case you haven’t noticed, the police may be all that is between you and the bad guys.

I am sad because American leadership has made a mess of almost every challenge facing it in the last twenty years simply because that leadership has been so lack luster. And given the choice in November of 2020, it’s going to be lack luster next year, too.

I have graduated from being angry because I find anger such a useless emotion most of the time. No, I’m not angry and I am not depressed. I am sad that America is no longer leading the world in much beside deaths from covid-19. Heck, we aren’t even making the best movies any more because that industry is shut down, too.

So here’s my suggestion.

First, let’s hope Joe Biden picks a real winner for a running mate.

Second, let’s hope he wins and then for some reason needs to step aside.

Third, let’s hope our first woman president can bring us together and lead us out of this. I am certain America wants to get back to leading the world in something beside the cost of healthcare and the fact that our life expectancy is not rising like that in the rest of the civilized world.

We can do better. We must.

Leonard Zwelling