Optimism, from my hero Claudia Rosett
in today’s WSJ: Happy Days Are Here Again: America stands astride the world, stronger and more self-confident than ever
It gets hard even to remember at this point, but less than five years ago, in what feels like another age of the world–and perhaps it was–the talk of America was whether our future as a democracy hung on the swinging chads of the Florida election recount. Some doubted that the republic could survive this experience unmaimed. Along with that, the dot-com bubble burst. The recession into which the country had already begun sliding got worse. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks that scorched the Pentagon and leveled the Twin Towers. And as America picked itself up from these acts of war, there were lamentations not only for those who died, but for the loss of American innocence.
It was not in truth innocence that had been lost. America, like any free nation, depends on a system of trust, engendered by liberty and rule of law. This accounted for the spell of almost odd gentility with which we treated each other in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. And it accounts for the resolve that we have by and large discovered since. What we lost was a crippling naiveté, cultivated in the narcissistic 1990s. What we regained was pride in our country, and a revived appreciation both of the values that have made America great, and the need–even at high cost, or in the face of such stuff as U.N. disapproval–to defend them.