David Carroll: Is it really that bad? | Opinion
With each election cycle, we see an avalanche of poll results. If we disagree with the polls, we are quick to say, “Who did they poll? No one probed me!”
But if we agree with the polls, we treat them as gospel. “See there? The polls say so!
Almost every national poll agrees on one thing: Americans are unhappy. We don’t approve of Biden’s handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We think Biden is responsible for inflation. We believe Biden is responsible for high energy prices. His approval rating is up there with bot calls, the smell of Bradford pear trees, and people letting their dogs “go” on your lawn.
Look back a few years and we were equally unhappy, according to pollsters. Many have blamed the spread of COVID-19 on Trump. Most were unhappy with the 10.2% unemployment rate. A USA Today poll showed 56% disagreed with his handling of race relations.
The midterm elections are coming up soon, and it’s a safe bet that at least half of us will be unhappy with the results. I can’t imagine our mood getting any better as the 2024 presidential election approaches.
But I have to ask: are things really that bad? My evidence is anecdotal, to be sure, but it’s worth talking about.
I recently attended two Atlanta Braves games. Both games were nearly sold out, with around 40,000 people jammed into the stadium. Almost every time the Braves step onto the field, even on weekdays, at least 30,000 are in attendance.
In this horrible, horrible economy that everyone is complaining about, these people seem to have no problem paying $40 for a parking spot, $95 for a decent seat, and hundreds more for hot dogs, drinks, desserts, jerseys and souvenirs. . Still, I can guarantee you that if a news crew pointed a camera and microphone at them, most of those people would angrily express their displeasure with the current state of the economy.
After each of those Braves games, I did what everyone does if they travel between Chattanooga and Atlanta. I stopped at Buc-ees in Calhoun, GA. For those uninitiated in Buc-ees, it’s the Macy’s of convenience stores. From 120 gas pumps outside, to islands of brisket sandwiches and homemade desserts, to acres of beaver-adorned caps, t-shirts and swimsuits, this place should have its own area code. .
On my first visit, I witnessed another explosion of trade. I stood in line behind a woman stocking up on sandwiches, peanut butter fudge brownies, and keychains to the tune of over a hundred dollars. I shook my head in astonishment. (Full disclosure. A few days later, my wife walked me into the store. This time I shelled out the big bucks. Note to self: distract her the next time we get close to the exit 310).
I have a feeling most people I saw at Buc-ees would tell any pollster how unhappy they are with soaring gas prices and skyrocketing inflation. But unless my eyes were playing tricks on me, they seemed pretty happy at the ball game and the chest supermarket.
What’s the real story? High gas prices don’t seem to have eased our daily traffic jams. Facebook tells me the beaches are buzzing again. The unemployment rate has fallen to 3.6% and jobs are available for anyone who wants to work. Many people who say they hate pandemic-era restrictions are privately happy to work from home.
Oddly enough, very few of us celebrate this: After decades of hollow, empty talk, Congress approved and funded infrastructure repairs. Soon we will all benefit from better roads, bridges, sewer lines and water lines.
Yes, there are still issues to be resolved. But unlike the Ukrainian people, we can go to bed tonight without fear of Russian rockets hitting our house. We can attend our children’s games, eat at our favorite restaurant and pray at the church of our choice.
So partisan politics aside, take a look around. Is it really that bad?
David Carroll is a news anchor from Chattanooga, and his new book “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley” is available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You can contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or at [email protected]