So I guess it’s supposed to be the election of 1980 all over again, and the relevant question assumes that I and everyone else must base “better” solely on whether we have more money. I’m offended by the smugness of the way the question is being asked. I have a lot less money. I chose to move toward a life that requires less money. I now have more time, since I live on less money. I have less debt and less stress. I’m happier. I have less of all things material, and more of all things intangible that have true and lasting value. I’m a LOT better off!
What does this have to do with who’s in the White House at any given time? Whether the country is better or worse off isn’t any easier to assume than it is for individuals. The U.S. has a great deal of debt. Some of it we got trying to provide services and opportunities for people, and taking care of the poor. Some of it was from fiscal mismanagement. Some of it we got from paying for our nationally inexhaustible fear of bogeymen, which used to be the Communists and now are the “terrorists”. I think if we tried to learn to live less in fear, we would be better off.
Some say the only relevant issue in this election is the economy, and getting people back to work. That’s important of course, but to say it’s the only issue is far too simplistic an approach. There are multiple issues in every election, depending on what you individually care most about. Perhaps few will vote based on the platform differences regarding same-sex marriage. What if you were gay, and wanted to be married? Is the election still only about the economy?
Immigrants came to this land and wiped out or rounded up the indigenous people who were living here before them. As each new wave of immigrants came after them, there were always those saying we would be better off to throw the new arrivals out. One of our oldest traditions is to treat poor people who come here from other countries to make a better life uncharitably, as if they came here to steal from us earlier immigrants. If we had less of that attitude, we would be better off. Immigrants have always made us a stronger, more diverse place in the long run. They understand sacrifice better than the average person born here.
As a people, we own too much stuff no one actually needs, like oversized houses and cars, designer clothing and shoes, and electronic toys. If you had fewer of these, wouldn’t you really be better off? One of our most profitable industries is the manufacture and export of weapons systems. It would mean making less money to intentionally reduce the sales of our fabulous, innovative killing technology, but we would be morally better off to do that. Many people own guns in America. They probably think it will make them safer. Guns make murder and suicide easier to succeed at. If we tried to know our neighbors by name, and tried harder to treat every stranger as a neighbor instead of having guns to protect us from them, we would all be better off.
And if an evil terrorist or a disgruntled person who was fired or an insane criminal should happen to kill me? I’ll never have to worry about dying of a lingering, painful illness, and I’ll be free from all earthly cares, and therefore – I’ll be better off.