Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 26, 2007 / 17 Teves, 5768

Politics? We'll take good cheer

By Jonah Goldberg


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There's been a lot of hand-wringing over the spectacle of presidential candidates campaigning during Christmas thanks to the front-loaded primary schedule. But I like it. It provides a nice reminder of how unimportant politics really are.


Think about it. Most of these candidates insist that this is the most important election in our lifetimes. (Funny how they say that every four years.) But if you're remotely normal, you haven't spent two minutes in the last few days fretting over Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan or Mitt Romney's scheme for securing the border.


You may be short on cash, but you probably haven't set aside time to ponder Mike Huckabee's 23% sales-tax proposal. If you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, you might have been moved by John McCain's POW-at-Christmas TV ad. You might have thought about how nice Barack Obama's family seems. Beyond that, you probably wish they'd all just shut up.


In short, the grandeur of the season diminishes all of the candidates because it reminds us of the smallness of their trade.


Washington pundits and politicians have a habit of equating America's collective political mood with our feelings about our own lives. When Americans say the country is "on the wrong track" — as three-quarters of us now say — the pundits proclaim that Americans are in a "funk" or a "sour mood." When approval ratings for Congress or the president are in the toilet, news reports call Americans "angry" and the climate "poisonous." But walk along any American Main Street during Christmas week and you'll find the atmosphere is hardly poisonous, the mood far from sour.


Obviously, dissatisfaction with the government is hugely important in political terms, and politics are significant. But Washington needs to get over itself. Very few people define their lives politically — a fact for which we should all be eternally grateful.


Imagine if the consumer research division of McDonald's found that a majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the golden arches or felt that the fast-food industry was on the "wrong track." It wouldn't occur to anyone at Hamburger University to conclude that Americans were in a foul mood. So when voters say they're unhappy with one or another branch of government, why does that mean that Americans are in a bad mood?


It may rate higher than Big Macs and Happy Meals, but politics still accounts for only a fraction of our lives. In Iowa, where residents are told every day for a year that the fate of the world hangs on their vote, fewer than 1% of the population attends the caucuses. And Iowans are supposed to take "the process" extremely seriously.


No wonder then that an extensive poll conducted by the Associated Press and Yahoo News in November found that although 77% of Americans said they believed the country was heading in the wrong direction, 66% said they were personally either very happy or somewhat happy. Only 18% said they were unhappy.


I have much more direct interaction with my local government — that of the District of Columbia — than I do with the feds. And you know what? I have loathed City Hall from the time I moved here on Marion Barry's watch to today. And yet these have been the best years of my life. I grew up in crime-ridden, high-tax, drug-addled, blackout-plagued New York City, when every day seemed to bring the place closer to collapse. Getting mugged every now and then was simply the price you paid for walking to school. And yet I look back on my childhood and smile.


The burgeoning field of "happiness studies" tells us that happiness is a peculiar state of mind, surprisingly immune to government or economic manipulation. USC economist Richard Easterlin first observed this more than 30 years ago. In 1947, 42% of Americans told a pollster they were very happy. In 1970, despite the fact that the average American family was 60% richer, the share of Americans reporting they were very happy had ticked up only slightly to 43%.


Today, a whopping 86% of Americans report feeling satisfied with their jobs, according to the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey. Nearly two-thirds, a Harris Poll found, expect their life to improve in the next five years, while only 7% expect it to worsen. The Pew Global Attitudes survey from 2007 found that Americans have one of the highest rates of personal satisfaction in the world.


That's not exactly the picture one gets from listening to John Edwards deliver another "Two Americas" stemwinder.


Political junkies constantly wag our fingers at "normal Americans" for not being more engaged. There's merit to the complaint; but there's also truth to the notion that Americans understand that the most important stuff lies elsewhere. That the holiday season crushes the political season is a sign Americans have their priorities in the right place.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.

Jonah Goldberg Archives

© 2006 TMS

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles