The fact that we are – at the moment – an angry nation has been widely reported. The fact that we are also an apparently disconnected electorate not so much. But we are. And examples are all over the landscape.

Let’s start here in the SW Oregon trees. It hasn’t been widely reported but the lumber business is looking up. Not far up. But up. In recent months, the number of trees cut hereabouts has risen. More important, the figures on board feet processed and shipped are up. Steadily. Our little local almost-daily newspaper had ads for a number of timber job openings in the Sunday issue. Has had for a several weeks. Some companies are adding another shift or more workers per shift.

But – talk to people on the street or the gas station or bar and you get angry responses about how “the economy is going to Hell” or “that damned Obama.” Angry. Looking for a target. Any target. Disconnected from what’s really going on around them. Much less the nation.

We have a little fella in the Congress. Been there 25 years as a Democrat in a largely Republican district and now he’s also in a minority in the House. Still, this year, working across the aisle, he managed to come up with several million federal dollars to keep at least one county in his district from near-term bankruptcy and to ease an immediate loss of federal income that was driving several others to the brink. Tucked it inside a transportation bill and got it through. Surprised a lot of us.

He and I have had words several times and you won’t find one of his re-election stickers on my bumper. But – he deserves a lot of credit. Credit he’s not getting on the street. His opponent this year – as it was last time around – is a guy totally unfit for public service, a screwball misfit with a high I.Q but failed common sense and a level of understanding of governance not seen since that Palin woman. He couldn’t get a volley ball through the marble halls of Congress if he had help.

But – letters to the editor in newspapers hereabout boast support for this guy. There are more of his yard signs and bumper stickers out. Talk on the street is the little fella who saved the district’s bacon should be ousted. Total disconnect.

On the national level, more of the same. The federal bailout of GM and Chrysler worked. Both are not only healthy but GM is setting record sales numbers, reopening plants, building at least one new one and hiring in several states. All three major car companies are producing far better products than when they were at the edge of bankruptcy. The industry is on the road again.

But Mitt Romney – who wanted to let GM sink – and congressional Republicans continue to damn the administration that stepped up and helped put it all back on track. Some of those naysayers will likely be re-elected this time because conditions in their home districts are healthy again. Can you say “disconnect?”

There are several dozen new programs on the market designed to help homeowners refinance or rewrite mortgages that were in danger of costing thousands of Americans their homes. There’s a new federal consumer agency forcing consumer-oriented changes in the credit card and lending markets. Some of the bad guys are already gone and the big guys have had to cut some fees and make lending more transparent.

But hate radio and the right wing keep hollering “SOCIALISM” and “throw the bastards out!” All they see is “government interference” and not the figures that show the slow-but-steady improvements in the economy. Again, the disconnect.

I am NOT deliberately campaigning for the current administration. Many people – many government agencies – many private corporations – businesses large and small – have been part of the turnaround that truly is taking place. Help has come – and will come – from many places and for many reasons. We’ve still got a long way to go and much needs to be done. The important point is it’s happening and we’ll make it!

But anger is clouding common sense for too many people. There’s a widespread belief the “system” has failed – that we need to “throw the whole thing out.” A lot of people are scared. And being scared, they’re not looking at facts, not seeing real progress and not accepting the one real fact that whatever their comfortable situations were before, they’ll probably not see again. Ever.

Try to talk to someone about why financial conditions in Spain or Greece are raising Hell with our stock market; creating shaky world conditions within and beyond our borders that we can’t control. Try explaining the international connectedness of nearly all of the world’s economies that affect the little bank down the block and the interest rate on your last car loan. Try discussing why riots in the streets in France immediately cut 200 points off the markets in New York. For far too many people you talk to, you won’t communicate. You won’t connect.

Anger. A lot of it in older people. Anger that things aren’t as comfortable and predictable as they were in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Fear because they lack control in their lives that they believe they had in an earlier time. They’re alarmed at the inability to keep up because things are moving so quickly and often without any apparent reason. Change upon change upon change.

Anger feeds the disconnect. I hear it every day. A recent Gallop poll showed six out of 10 people who’ll vote for Romney explained they would really be voting against Obama. Six in 10! That’s anger. But at what? For what definable reason? Why? They can’t tell you.

Disconnect. An angry electorate is one thing. Anger will eventually cool. But the disconnect is – in my mind – worse because it can be a lasting thing. Education – or more properly re-education – is a two-step process. The first is to “unlearn” what you think you know. The second is to learn the new fact(s). That takes time. And effort. For some, it never changes.

Ironic, isn’t it? Here we are in the middle of an electronic world where information and facts are at our fingertips more than ever before. Yet so many people won’t pursue them. Disconnect.

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