Hey America! What happened to your sense of optimism?!

The_Wave_AP110605115747

Americans have always thought of themselves as an optimistic people, but you’d have a hard time finding evidence for that lately. You hear it in our political debate, and you probably hear it in discussions with family and friends as well. Poll after poll reports a deep, abiding pessimism, with a large majority of Americans saying the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The most recent such poll comes from Reuters/Ipsos, released Thursday. It reports that just 24 percent of Americans believe that the country is on the right track, with 59 percent believing we’re headed in the opposite direction. But what struck me most about the Reuters report is the partisan divide hidden in those numbers.

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Source: Reuters/Ipsos

Forty percent of Democrats believe that the country is headed in the right direction, while only 10 percent of Republicans share that confidence. Overall, 83 percent of Republicans fear the country is headed down the tubes, so to speak, with only 43 percent of Democrats feeling that way. If you want to know why Donald Trump’s message of “Make America Great Again” has had such resonance within the GOP base, and why the general tone of that party is that “we’re going to hell in a handbasket,” there’s your explanation. (According to Ipsos, Trump (29%) and Ben Carson (27%) remain at the top of the Republican race, followed by Jeb Bush (9%), Marco Rubio (6%) and Ted Cruz (5%).)

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(AP)

Some might try to attribute that sense of national gloom among Republicans to the presence of President Obama, and there’s some truth to that. Polling history tells us that Republicans and Democrats both tend to be more optimistic about the direction we’re headed when someone from their own party sits in the White House. However, the depth of the GOP’s current disenchantment runs much deeper than historic norms would indicate.

You might also argue that these dismal numbers represent the lingering impact of the 2008 economic collapse, the biggest economic crisis the country has faced in 80 years. But as bad as they are today, the right track/wrong track numbers were even lower in 2007 and 2008 — before President Obama took office, before the economic collapse. This is not the consequence of one man, or one event. This is a long-term phenomenon. Gallup has been asking its version of this question since 1979, and it notes that prior to 2006, the optimism rate rarely fell below 30 percent. It’s been below that number for a decade now.

The last time a majority of Americans thought we were on the right track was back in 2003 or 2004, in the temporary afterglow of the Iraq invasion and before things turned sour. The sense of national unity that surged in the wake of the 9/11 attacks also produced a moment of optimism, but to find a sustained period of national confidence you would have to reach back to the turn of the century.

And it’s odd, in a way. We certainly have our economic challenges, but the truth is that at 5.1 percent, the jobless rate is lower today than it was at any point under President Reagan, for example. The stock market is doing fine, and the so-called misery index of the unemployment rate combined with inflation is at its lowest rate in my lifetime. Terrorism poses a threat, but the scale of that threat does not approach what we faced against the Soviet Union, for example.

Given all that, if we’re looking to government as the cause of our lack of confidence, and thus to government as the solution to that problem, then I suspect we’re looking in the wrong places. For example, I’m sure the 83 percent of Republicans who now believe that things are on the wrong track would get a temporary boost of optimism if we elect a President Rubio or (heaven forbid) Trump next year, but I doubt that’s going to address the real sources of their disenchantment, which are probably far more cultural and social than political.

 

 

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1209 comments
Corey
Corey

Jay, how does that break down by age? We have a huge aging population who looks around and see that rapid change is something they have trouble wrapping their heads around, and these changes pour into their living rooms via TV on a daily basis. In addition, controversy has become a 24/7 broadcast industry.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Conservative Christians freak out over false report that Chick-fil-a sponsored LGBT film festival

Conservative Christians have launched a Change.org petition demanding that fast food chain Chick-fil-a account for its support of a “Christian LGBT film festival.”

David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement wrote Monday that a Chick-fil-a patron named Steven Policastro created the petition in the mistaken belief that the corporation has donated money to the Level Ground film festival.

However, as the Advocate reported, the Level Ground donation came from a Nashville, TN Chick-fil-a franchise owner, not the national company.

Seems like support for Level Ground was just one franchise owner, and not from corporate HQ.

Sigh....

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Visual_Cortex 

Baby steps so I understand, but I look forward to the day when celebrating not throwing someone under the bus is a thing of the past

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kamchak
On the other hand, it doesn't look like corporate is throwing this guy under the bus. Local festival, local support. I suspect a lot of Nashvillians (sp?) are fine with the objectives of this festival, at least from what I see at its website:


The Level Ground Festival is a one-of-a-kind experience that integrates the best, most interesting aspects of an educational conference, an art exhibit, and a film festival, all with an interactive storytelling foundation. Our hope is that art inspires empathy, creates a listening space, and cultivates a better way of speaking with one another across our differences and disagreements. 

Each Level Ground Festival is specially curated to include a diversity of film screenings, live music, dance, and theater performances, visual art exhibits, catered meals, exclusive interviews, workshops, stand-up comedy, live podcasts, and workshops for the purpose of elevating the public discourse around the otherwise polarizing topics of gender identity and human sexuality. 

The Level Ground Festival draws a unique audience that reflects the full spectrum of religious (and non-religious) beliefs, gender identities, and sexual orientations. All denominations, theologies, beliefs, races, and ages are welcome. 


Sounds like the sort of thing the more enlightened Evangelicals in my circle of acquaintances could easily get behind.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@TBS Oh my, racially INSENSITIVE, whatever shall we do. Oh lord I may just faint away. I cannot believe the whole world does not engage in group think. We need more laws to force people to be sensitive to my sensitivities. Oh help me....

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@TBS @InTheMiddle2 Dont care about it being a prank. I think people get way too over sensitive. Quite frankly I would not care if a restaurant had an appetizer called Cheesy Honkey Cracker dip, so long as it tasted good.

TBS
TBS

@St Simons he-ne-ha


It wasn't just that the blogger stated well I will hold my own judgement until more information comes out.

He went on and on about bad journalism and gullible liberals running with a story that was a prank. 

Seems he shattered the gullibility meter in thinking that this was not even a possibility. 

We know now it was more than just a possibility.  



Kamchak
Kamchak

@TBS 

He was eager to dismiss rawstory as a credible source.

He shoulda left this one alone.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

saw that. I mean with allll the outrage they manufacture, they ought to have a separate sku for this one. Let's see...

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

@TBS "Simmons and Dominick wrote that according to their staff, which comprises University of Georgia students, “offensive themed drinks have never been served or requested by our patrons.” Also according to Simmons’ and Dominick’s statement, a look at the bar’s computerized sales records “reveals no history of any inappropriate beverages having been sold.” 


"Something stashed behind the bar."  Not a drink menu at a print shop.  I stand by the original assertion.  A prank that gullible libs ran with.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@InTheMiddle2 

  I cannot believe the whole world does not engage in group think.

Self described ElRushbo dittoheads say, "What?"

TBS
TBS

@InTheMiddle2 @TBS


You can play drama queen all you like.

You are more than welcome to take it up with the blogger who called it a prank. 

Not my problem or concern what you do or don't do

Brosephus
Brosephus

@TBS 

Wasn't here to see that last week, and I see you got some panties bunched up down below.  LOL!!!!

Kamchak
Kamchak

@_GodlessHeathen_ 

(shrug)

So, the drink was never served but it was a thing and not something posted on their shoutyface page by a hacker.

TBS
TBS

@_GodlessHeathen_ @TBS


bwhahahhhaha


It is ok buddy.......... You were talking tall last week 

It was funny then and now


And I stand by that assertion

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

I hear if Anonymous is successful in this sample trial run of outing 1,000 racist pigs, they're going to expand it to Outing every racist pig on the internet.

Goooooooo Anonymous

Crowd-fund, b$&es. We're in. Large$ Bills

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

A rare occasion yesterday in the AJC hardcopy where both Jay and Kyle wrote about the same thing - Obamacare.

Jay cited premium increases that are way below those referenced by opposition forces.

Kyle pointed out the Left's claim of lower increases is due to the base line used having included employer provided insurance.

The conclusion I reached is that Kyle is correct and Jay and the Left are spinning to put the best lipstick on the pig.

Of course, Jay did not miss the opportunity to once again call for Georgia to expand Medicaid.

Why would any state proceed with Medicaid expansion knowing Obamacare will either self implode or be repealed/drastically modified?

No, ACA is on the way to the grave. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Nick_Danger @JohnnyReb

The PPACA is here to stay - it would be easiest to just get over it

The Right can't ever actually say it. They're continuing to claim that they'll "repeal" it, but somehow keep all the Patient Protections in place and, oh, regulate what they can to make Affordable Care somehow available.

So there'll be a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, really there will be, just don't call it the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act".

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@JohnnyReb 

"Why would any state proceed with Medicaid expansion knowing Obamacare will either self implode or be repealed/drastically modified?"

Yes, indeed!  The Republican House will repeal the PPACA, privatize Social Security, and end all "entitlements"! 

I think they're doing it this week!

/snarc

(The PPACA is here to stay - it would be easiest to just get over it.)

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@Normd Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya

Lee30519
Lee30519

Jay what happened to your sense of morals?

KUTGF
KUTGF

the Food Safety Modernization Act — the 2011 piece of legislation that gives the FDA mandatory recall authority, as well as expanded regulatory powers — requires $580 million to be effective, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But Congress has provided less than half that amount. As ThinkProgress reported earlier this year, agency officials say this budget shortfall “undermines their efforts to significantly improve the food safety system that has failed to prevent nearly 48 million foodborne illnesses annually, nearly 3,000 of which result in death.”

_________


E Coli breakout in Wash. and Ore have closed 40 Chipotle restaurants throughout the states. And our RWers are worried about more about beheadings by ISIL and have no problem providing money to fight there but here, truly protecting the children is just meaningless to the RWers.   


This is another example of failed "smaller govt" and underfunded govt that cannot protect its citizens. 

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@KUTGF Because we all KNOW that throwing more money at any problem will solve it every time!

Right?

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@KUTGF 

But regulations (even to save the lives of children) are an example of government infringing on the rights of businessmen, dontcha know...

honested
honested

@KUTGF 

Well, the Chipotle restaurants are selling e-coli that is made in the USA so there is nothing to worry about!

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@_GodlessHeathen_ @Nick_Danger @KUTGF 

The free market works!  A few very sick kids, and people will quit shopping there.  Who needs safety regulations at all?

Coal mines are next - after a few miners die in cave-ins, miners will quit working there!  No regulations needed - free market rules!

Unsafe cars?  After a few deaths, folks will quit buying that brand (sucks to have already bought one, though).  The invisible hand renders regulations obsolete!

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@_GodlessHeathen_ @Nick_Danger @KUTGF 

LOL!

That's why I think folks who actually say, "the free market can handle it without regulation" really haven't thought through the real-life consequences.  Or, for that matter, even read Adam Smith, who warns against such.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

@Nick_Danger @_GodlessHeathen_ @KUTGF 

The FY 2015 Budget includes $4.7 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an increase of $358 million, or 8 percent, above FY 2014.


Just a few more 100 million dollars and those poor people at Chipoltes would not have gotten sick.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@DownInAlbany Sweetie, again your knee jerk is foolish.  Fixing a food system that fails to deliver to Americans safe food must be fixed.  But let's take your foolishness and look at it...has spending more money on wars and military "solved problems".....  nope, its created more.  So by your foolish nonsense, the answer is simple... cut military spending.


Oh and that sound you hear is my answer going completely over your head like a flight of Blue Angels. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Down below we got this from byteme:

Who do you think perpetuates the Palestinian vs. Israeli conflict?

The crazy right wingers.

I only just managed to listen to this piece, from the previous week.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/570/the-night-in-question

I really had no idea just how brutally hardened Israel has become over the past twenty years to the reality of permanent settlement on the West Bank, and just how the Rabin assassination (which happened about 20 years ago, this week I believe) set in motion what can only be described as a win for the Likudniks.

I'm a lot more skeptical about the prospects for civilized resolution between the parties than I was before I heard this, is what I'm saying. And I'm not happy about that at all; it's just what it is.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

...I should add, it's not just me, it's guys like Ira Glass--who I think is pretty savvy and certainly not prone to unrealistic expectations of other people’s behavior—he says himself that he came away from this story rather shocked and a lot sadder-but-wiser about how the Rabin assassination shapes the political discussion in Israel today.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

Where's the sense of optimism?

Well, there's Murica's 1st black president

murica's 1st woman president

just look at this beach view...

All 5 little indians made Gifted class

Deaton & Piketty getting Nobels

trickle-down fraud is finally outed & dead

Iran is the only nation in the M.E. actually honoring the Non Proliferation agreement

Con clown car compleeeetely derailed

Gas under $2

Demographics in our favor for 50 yrs

Anonymous Pinning the Tail on the Racist pigs

Alternate Energy (wind & solar) Ga Power available in Glynnco next year.

Optimistic? hell if it gets any better, i won't know what to do

fedup52
fedup52

Mr. Rubio, by then outgrowing his Tea Party stage and seeking to position himself as a party leader who did not meddle in others’ primaries, never found room in his schedule for Mr. Cruz, who had to settle for a meeting with Mr. Rubio’s staff members.

+++

Cat fight between two Mixicans.  (trying my best redneck) LOL