The fear factor is taking over the markets, the economy and the public psyche. And no matter what programs or photo ops the new administration stages, it won't help restore public confidence if the rhetoric and the policies are surrounded by gloom.
This is not to say that "positive thinking" can turn the stock market around, or restore jobs, or create incentives for business to expand production, or even for consumers to start spending again. That would require real incentives -- things like lower tax rates on risky investments or capital gains. Or tax breaks for entrepreneurs to create businesses and expand hiring.
The combination of fear and politics is especially combustible. It blinds us to the consequences of rash actions. It turns one group against the other, whether based on political thinking or on perceptions of "winners and losers." America doesn't need class warfare, generation warfare, tax warfare or culture warfare. As the late Dr. Adrian Rogers said: "You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it." (Special thanks to
-- for reminding me of that statement.)
History shows that America does best when we are mostly united in optimism, no matter which political party is in power. Reagan had it. Kennedy had it. And President Obama has it within him to rally that kind of confidence. What our country needs right now is a little positive thinking.
One of the great motivational books of all time, "The Strangest Secret" by Earl Nightingale, was written 75 years ago. The "secret" was this: "We become what we think about!"