Tags: Dana Milbank | optimism | economy | politics

Columnist Dana Milbank: Americans Have Lost Optimism

By    |   Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 08:32 AM

Americans have never been more pessimistic about the future because they have lost faith in the political system, writes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.

Optimism was mostly a given throughout U.S. history. The tide began to turn in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Confidence that the next generation would live better than we do was the core of the American Dream, writes Milbank.

That is no longer true. Millennials will be the first generation to see their living standards decline.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll starkly illustrates Americans' lost optimism.

Asked if "life for our children's generation will be better than it has been for us," 76 percent replied in the negative.

The pollsters who did the survey, Democrat Fred Yang and Republican Bill McInturff, say the pessimism is universal. While variations are discernible — young people and Democrats are comparatively less glum — everyone seems discouraged in absolute terms.

This applies to wealthy and poor alike; men as well as women, and across the ethnic divide.

"In other words, the gloom goes beyond wealth, gender, race, region, age, and ideology. This fractious nation is united by one thing: lost faith in the United States," writes Milbank.

Experts say the gloom is part of a worldwide phenomenon stemming from the 2008 economic downturn.

In the U.S. case the problem goes even deeper: "Americans are reacting, in part, to the breakdown of the political system, which leaves people quite rationally worried about American decline and the nation's diminishing ability to weather crises," according to Milbank.

The problem predates President Barack Obama and is "larger than any leader's ability to bring hope and change," Milbank argues.

"The unsettledness of the public is what is normal now," said Yang. "To me, this is less about economic reality than about our political system — our lack of confidence that our political leaders, regardless of party, are equipped to deal with the future."

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Americans have never been more pessimistic about the future because they have lost faith in the political system, writes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
Dana Milbank, optimism, economy, politics
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2014-32-13
Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 08:32 AM
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