October 21st, 2008
08:01 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: State of the Union

Erica Hill | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

A man returns a pair of shoes after finding the same pair somewhere else at a better price (sounds like me!), but later notices a racial slur on his receipt. At first, I thought a salesperson had scrawled the hateful word on the back of his receipt. But then I watched the story and realized that nasty word was an option in the store’s computer. Why on earth would a code for a racial slur be on ANY computer, especially the one tied to a cash register? To get the full picture, you need to watch the story.


Just how close is this country to a repeat of the Great Depression? A little too close for my comfort.


The uncertain economy is one of the leading factors behind the findings in a new CNN poll - results that offer a jarring snapshot of the USA.

The bad news: 75 percent of Americans say things are going badly in this country, according to a new CNN poll. Americans are angry, scared and stressed to the max – though I probably didn’t need to tell you that. "Americans tend to downplay the amount of fear they have when facing tough times,” says CNN polling director Keating Holland. “The fact that more than six in 10 say that they are scared shows how bad things are getting."

And to give you even more perspective, in the last 40 years, the only other times there has been such a high level of dissatisfaction among Americans was during Watergate, the Iranian hostage crisis and the recession of 1992.

The good news: You have a voice. And two weeks from today (or even today, depending on where you live), you can make it heard by voting.

This has nothing to do with your politics, and everything to do with your right to speak out. I love voting for a very simple reason: it makes me feel good. It also gives me the right to complain – or not! Sometimes the nastiness and the partisan nature of these elections make for a sad state of the Union. Neighbors have verbal spats in driveways, families are divided and bewildered by those who don’t share their political beliefs, and the energy is downright negative. But it doesn’t have to be. Even if you think all of the candidates are awful, you still have a voice. Vote for a third-party candidate, write someone in. You can also boycott the negative conversations.

We all have a chance to turn things around. It’s true, I can’t fix the economy. I can’t personally alter the way we fuel our transportation and our homes, but I can be a positive force in my daily life. I can try to spread some optimism, and I can take responsibility for my role in this country. It won’t solve every issue, and it may not even make a dent in those poll numbers… at least not right away. But good DOES go around. And if we all make the conscious decision to do our part, to think positive, and to work together no matter who is elected, we just might make some changes.

OK, all together now, “Kumbayah…”

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