American Pessimism

For a stunningly long period now, American voters have been pessimistic about the country’s future — and their own. ...
In a column a year ago, I noted that for a solid decade, the percentage of Americans who said that the United States was on the wrong track had exceeded the percentage who said that it was on the right track, according to polling by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. ...
The split as of two weeks ago was 62 percent to 28 percent. ...
In The Washington Post recently, Robert Samuelson observed that while the American economy expanded at an average annual rate of 4 percent from 1950 to 1973, it’s predicted to grow just 2.1 percent annually over the next decade. The 6 percent increases that weren’t uncommon in the 1990s are apparently long gone.

- The Bitter Backdrop to 2016, Frank Bruni, NYT, MaY 13, 2015

Her views are echoed in national polls, where young people are consistently, deeply downbeat about the future and the political system. A recent poll of people 18 to 29 years old by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found nearly half agreed with the statement that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.” More than two-thirds said the country is “on the wrong track,” and a majority rejected both capitalism and socialism as models for the future.
- Kirk Johnson, Debt. Terror. Politics. To Seattle Millennials, the Future Looks Scary., NYT, Aug. 18, 2016

Roger Cohen writes of

the widespread feeling that something is amiss: that jobs are being lost; that precariousness has replaced security; that incomes are stagnant or falling; that politicians have been bought; that the bankers behind the 2008 meltdown got off unscathed; that immigrants are free riders; that inequality is out of control; that tax systems are skewed; that terrorists are everywhere.
- Roger Cohen, My Daughter the Pole, NYT, Aug. 22, 2016

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