The mood of the nation
Despite foreign crises, despite rising inflaton, despite mounting costs for energy, despite predicted recession, the dominant mood of the American people is one of confidence and poise.
Most Americans believe that the United States will emerge from its present problems and uncertainties a stronger and healthier nation.
This is not the wishful view of a campaigning politician or the idle thought of a commentator looking for something to say. It reflects the consensus of the majority of Americans as we head into the usually unsettling period of a national election. It is the welcome finding of one of the most reliable of the nationwide opinion surveys conducted annually by Civic Service, St. Louis, Missouri.
The questions were not soft, but the answers were encouraging because this kind of pervasive expectancy of good is the best possible foundation for a nation to achieve its objectives.
It seems to me that it teels the presidential candidates something of the kind of leadership the voters expect of them.
Let me cite some of the proposals and the responses they evoked which are especially revealing:
"Our economy won't be surpassed by others like Japan or the Europeans; we'll continue to be the most prosperous large nation in the world."
Agree: 54.4 percent. Disagree: 29.7 percent.
"The US will be able to meet the challenges we face throughout the world and remain a strong superpower with worldwide influence."
Agree: 68.7 percent. Disagree: 17.8 percent.
"We'll solve our energy problems so that we have the energy we need to maintain our standard of living and continue to grow."
Agree: 63.1 percent. Disagree: 25.6 percent.
"The US should come to the aid of its major European allies (and Japan) with military force if any of them are attacked by Soviet Russia."
Agree on Europe: 69.6 percent. Disagree: 17.5 percent.
Agree on Japan if attacked by either Russia or China: 57 percent. Disagree: 23.9 percent.
This survey, which canvassed a balanced cross-section of every Congressional district in the nation, asked two questions which bear on proposals long advocate in these columns and the answers show decisive public support.
"It has been proposed in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the US Government and to promote greater national unity in our country, that President Carter create a bi-partisan (that is, a two party) coalition administration by appointing two or more republican leaders to cabinet positions as President Roosevelt did in 1940."
Agree: 53.9 percent. Disagree: 25.9 percent.
"Would you favor having major new legislation worked out in close consultation between the president and Congressional leaders before it goes to Congress to help reduce confrontation and stalemate?"
Agree: 60.7 percent. Disagree: 20 percent.
There were two more questions which relate to the presidential campaign.
"What do you think is the most important issue facing the nation?"
Economic issues: 38.1 percent.
International (defense, Iran, Afghanistan, threat of war): 35.6 percent.
Crime: 2.3 percent.
"It has been said that liberalism, like the philosophy which produced the Great Society, is finished for the 20th century and that the new mood of American is toward conservatism."
Agree: 55.3 percent. Disagree: 31 percent.
Obviously sacrifice and discipline will be needed to achieve some of these goals, but it is clear that the next president will have much to build on.