Twice in recent weeks I’ve felt compelled to call myself out for being naïve in previous posts to this blog. What could be worse? I suppose the answer is continuing to repeat the mistake.

So here I go again. But this time, I’m calling myself out in advance in a crude attempt to inoculate myself from the shame of being called a Pollyanna.

So here it is, delivered with all the conviction of a mealy-mouthed question: Could it possibly be that things are looking up? That in this season of hope, there is, in fact, reason to hope that things are getting better?

Are the recent signs that the economy is getting better for real? The Wall Street Journal said this in its story today about the upward revision of third quarter GDP: “Optimism about the U.S. recovery has grown sharply in the past month, fueled by a series of economic reports showing everything from consumers spending more freely to businesses curbing layoffs.” (Curbing layoffs isn’t as good as hiring new workers, but it’s a start.)

Are the recent compromises in Washington a signal that the search for common ground could lead to more progress? President Obama made this case at a news conference yesterday:

“A lot of folks in this town predicted that after the midterm elections, Washington would be headed for more partisanship and more gridlock. And instead, this has been a season of progress for the American people. That progress is reflecting -- is a reflection of the message that voters sent in November -- a message that said it’s time to find common ground on challenges facing our country. That’s a message that I will take to heart in the New Year, and I hope my Democratic and Republican friends will do the same.”

Okay, let’s not get carried away. The obstacles ahead are huge. The economy still faces deep structural problems. The deficit looms as a disaster waiting to happen. But what if we were to see a gradual recovery of confidence in our economy, accompanied by a new spirit of determination in Washington to find common ground and commonsense compromises to advance the best interests of the American people?

So I choose to hope for positive answers to all these questions. But I’m probably just being naïve.

Roger Bolton
SVP, Communications, Aetna (Retd.)
Senior Counselor, RBC Strategic Consulting