Thursday, November 19, 2015

the gulf between what Toynbee called the "dominant minority" and the "internal proletariat" is widening...,

HuffPo |  Here's a brief, non-exhaustive list of things that a new poll says Americans don't have much faith in: the government, businesses, the economy, the power of their vote and the future of the United States.
The overall mood of the country is one of "anxiety, nostalgia and mistrust," according to the 2015 American Values Survey, which was released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute.
"Fear is not an emotion that you see often in public opinion polls, but it was clearly there in the fall of 2008 and early 2009" after the economic collapse, said Karlyn Bowman, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, during a Tuesday panel discussion of the survey. "Americans aren't confident that we've fixed what went wrong."
Many, in fact, see the country as on the decline. The poll found that 53 percent of Americans say the nation's culture and way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s. Forty-nine percent now say America's best days are behind it, up from 38 percent who said the same in 2012. Democrats remain more bullish, while Republicans and tea party members are the most pessimistic. 
A sense of nostalgia isn't unique to the present day: Back in 1939, most Americans thought "the horse-and-buggy" days were happier than their era. (Granted, those people had just lived through the Great Depression and were heading into World War II.)
But Americans today are deeply worried about their economic prospects. Nearly three-quarters believe the country is still in a recession, unchanged since last year. An increasing majority -- now nearly 80 percent -- say the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, with even more agreeing that corporations do not share enough of their success with their employees. A rising number also say they're troubled that not everyone in the U.S. gets an equal chance in life. 
There's also a growing antipathy toward people perceived as outsiders. In the survey, which was taken well before the Paris terror attacks, 56 percent say that the values of Islam are at odds with American values, up 9 points in the past four years. Forty-eight percent say they're bothered when encountering immigrants who speak little or no English, up 8 points since 2012.
And many Americans feel personally disenfranchised. Nearly two-thirds say their vote doesn't matter because of the influence that wealthy individuals and big corporations have. Fifty-seven percent say the federal government doesn't really look out for people like them.
The pessimism, though, isn't equally shared across demographic lines.