Was it during the Clinton campaign that the most common slogan was “it’s the economy stupid?” I am not sure, but certainly most Clevelanders remember that refrain very well. As the country gears up for the next presidential run, the economy will certainly be at the center of attention, if not the key that determines the outcome.
Common wisdom is that people vote their pocketbook. Watching gas prices escalate even after President Obama tapped into strategic oil reserves must give all pause to wonder where things are headed. For over a year government agencies have been reporting that the recession is over and that the economy is on the rebound. Theoretically inflation levels are not bad, yet shoppers pay more and more with each supermarket expedition. Indeed it is nearly impossible finding items at the same or lower price than this time last year.
Yet the terrible state of the economy may have a wonderful side effect. All of us, rich and poor; blue and white collar; Jewish, Christian, and Moslem are in the same boat. Each of us faces the regular struggle to find work, to pay bills, and to survive on shrinking pay checks. Many finding jobs after time away from the workforce are forced to start anew at entry levels. Many have gained the attention of online colleges and universities¸ and are pestered to pursue further education, even when already holding advanced degrees. Agencies built to help those out of work advocate taking any job, and giving up on a sense of self. Avoiding homelessness, after all, is not an option.
Yet in the despair of a poor economy there is hope, and hard to believe as it may be, it comes from Israel. Yesterday Haaretz reported that “more than 100,000 people took to the streets Saturday to protest the spiraling costs of living in Israel”. The article reported that demonstrations were held in eleven cities, and here is the best part, the demonstrations were jointly planned by Arabs and Jews.
It is not only the United States suffering from poor economy. Even Israel, one of the strongest economies in the world, is suffering. The condition is so poor there that the Knesset will likely remain in session to resolve economic issues despite a planned summer recess . But think, in a country faced day by day with threats from Arab neighbors and an increasingly vocal Arab minority, the entire populus is able to unite to face an issue that confronts all citizens.
Perhaps we in Cleveland can also unite to confront our elected officials: those here in town, in state government and representing us in Washington. If Israel’s economy can unite Jews and Arabs, certainly the American condition can unite our people, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, as well.