The average American can be pardoned if he or she has that hopelessness feeling when it comes to our government. The federal government is so big, so impersonal, out of our reach, so divided, with a continuous and increasing impact on our lives, run by people who hold more allegiance to their political parties than to the welfare of the people, regulations that are choking us, eroding freedoms — the unfavorable conditions go on and on . . .

But somehow the government and the people survive. Americans have endured even though satisfaction is absent.

The hopelessness feeling prevails among many of our elected representatives. They enter office with the best of intentions and soon find the changes they had hoped to make aren’t possible or will take a long time. The entrenched system runs them rather than our elected lawmakers running the government. We give them credit for running for elective office.

We don’t elect the best qualified people. Better qualified people too often don’t seek public office. This doesn’t mean we don’t elect some qualified people. We do, but not enough of them. Elected officials can change. Maybe it’s the water in Washington, D.C.

This fiscal cliff legislative battle between Congress and the White House added to the hopelessness condition. We depend on our elected representatives to do what is in the best interests of the majority of people. Sometimes our elected representatives have their own agendas and it’s not completely the same as the people who voted for them. There are so many political forces to contend with in the system that create discord and stop or slow the legislative process.

Leadership can be lacking on major issues. Disagreements are common because people with varying personalities are involved. There always have been disagreements since the founding of our country. Compromise is necessary to steer legislation forward. There were some compromises to end the fiscal cliff donnybrook. The pundits list winners and losers among the leaders involved in the issue.

Did the people win? That’s the most important question. After all the fine print is put in motion we may have an answer, which will come in time.

The hopelessness condition is not permanent. We do get over it, at least for periods. Without hope, what’s left?