The Nation's Pulse

America’s Quiet Anger

Most of the angry are not out marching in the streets, waving signs or shouting into bullhorns.

By 3.30.10

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There is a quiet anger boiling in America.

It is the anger of millions of hard-working citizens who pay their bills, send in their income taxes, maintain their homes and repay their mortgage loans -- and see their government reward those who do not.

It is the anger of small town and Middle American folks who have never been to Manhattan, who put their savings in a community bank and borrow from a local credit union, who watch Washington lawmakers and presidents of both parties hand billions in taxpayer bailouts to the reckless Wall Street titans who brought down the economy in 2008.

It is the fury of the voiceless, the powerless, the ordinary nobodies of Flyover Country who are ridiculed, preached to, satirized and insulted by the Celebrity Loudmouths of the two Left Coasts, the Jon Stewarts and Keith Olbermanns, the Paul Krugmans and their ilk.

It is the salted wound of the millions who see that ruling Democrats in Congress are not listening to them but are willfully ignoring public opinion and the verdict of recent elections in passing a huge new health care entitlement when the existing entitlements of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are already going broke.

It is the frustrating helplessness of citizens who revere the Founding Fathers and the genius of the Constitution that they wrote, who actually believe the words of the Constitution mean what they say, not more and not less. They who watch politicians and the courts stretch and bend that Constitution -- finding "rights" not enumerated, powers never granted, meanings unimagined -- believe that their country is being redefined without their consent.

Most of the angry are not out marching in the streets, waving signs or shouting into bullhorns. And they are not smashing windows or phoning death threats to politicians. They are simply waking up angry in the morning, and going to bed angry at night. And their resentment is multiplied by the media's efforts to portray them all as dangerous, crazy people, and by the effort of certain Democrats to tar them with brush of violent intent.

They are embittered, too, by the rhetoric of a triumphant president who turns on its head Winston Churchill's heroic attitude promising defiance in defeat but magnanimity in victory. For a president of a deeply divided country, defiance in victory is not an endearing posture. It has all the persuasive charm of a Chad Ochocinco victory dance in the end zone of the opponent's stadium.

These quietly angry people gather in their churches while their religions are called divisive and their beliefs are labeled as bigotry, and they pray for a better day. They talk among themselves in their Main Street cafes, at the Rotary club or at their kids' softball games, seeking others who understand their frustration and will not respond with arrogant dismissal.

They are tired of being told they are too stupid to understand the country's complex problems, too rooted in the past to find solutions, too selfish to share what they have worked for with everyone else who wants it.

They are not reaching for guns or for pitchforks. They are holding their anger within, waiting for their time, watching those in power over-reach and over-indulge.

Their wound is deep, and it will not be salved by more presidential speeches, Congressional hand-outs, or promises of wonderful things to come. They no longer believe any of that. Their quiet rage abides, waiting till it can be expressed in that silent place behind the curtain where the ballot lists the names that they have now committed to an angry memory.

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About the Author

James P. Gannon is a retired former Wall Street Journal reporter and newspaper editor. He lives in Virginia.