A recent Pew Research Center survey has shed light on Americans’ deeply pessimistic outlook on various aspects of their nation. This survey, based on data collected in July, reveals that a significant portion of the population fears for the future of the United States, with concerns spanning from moral and ethical standards to education, racial equality, international relations, and the state of family life.
Dismal Outlook on Politics and Elected Officials
The Pew report says, “Americans have long been critical of politicians and skeptical of the federal government.”
However, the author also said, “Today, Americans’ views of politics and elected officials are unrelentingly negative, with little hope of improvement on the horizon. Majorities say the political process is dominated by special interests, flooded with campaign cash and mired in partisan warfare.”
The survey finds that just 14% of US adults believe that most elected officials care about people like them, while only 15% believe these officials run for office out of a genuine desire to serve the public.
On top of that, a mere 26% perceive the quality of political candidates in recent years as good, marking a significant decline from just five years ago.
Political System and Trust in Government
The survey also indicates a lack of faith in the political system as a whole, with only 27% of respondents describing it as working somewhat well today.
Similarly, just 37% have any confidence in its future.
All Time Low
Americans’ trust in the federal government is at a historic low, with only 16% expressing trust in its ability to consistently do the right thing.
Political disillusionment is also clear across party lines.
Despite Republican’s and Democrat’s differences, both sides overwhelmingly agree that the political system is mired in partisan warfare.
The Different Worries
While Republican-aligned adults tend to be more pessimistic about various aspects, including moral and ethical standards, education, international relations, and family life.
Democrats express greater pessimism regarding racial equality.
Desire for Third Parties
A notable finding is that an increasing number of Americans hold unfavorable views of both major political parties.
This sentiment is especially clear for those under 50, with 35% expressing dislike for both parties.
While 37% of respondents wish for more political parties, only 26% believe that additional parties would facilitate problem-solving.
Limits to Negativity
Despite widespread discontent with government and politics, there are limits to Americans’ pessimism.
More than half express confidence in their local elected officials (56%) and state governors (51%).
Furthermore, a majority feel there’s at least one political candidate who shares most of their views (56%), and most believe that voting can have some effect on the country’s future direction (57%).
Dismal Outlook on Society
The Pew Research Center survey also identifies widespread pessimism among Americans when it comes to societal concerns.
A significant majority, 63%, feel pessimistic about the country’s moral and ethical standards, while 59% harbor pessimism about the education system.
There are also concerns about racial equality (44%), international relations (41%), and the institution of marriage and family (40%).
Divisions Across Parties, Ages, and Races
Republicans are consistently more pessimistic than Democrats across these societal aspects.
However, Democrats express higher pessimism regarding racial equality, reflecting a clear partisan divide.
Additionally, older adults tend to be more pessimistic about moral and ethical standards and the institution of marriage and family.
Across racial and ethnic groups, White adults are generally the most pessimistic, particularly concerning moral and ethical standards, the education system, and international relations.
However, Black and Asian adults express more pessimism about racial equality compared to their White and Hispanic counterparts.
In response to these findings, people seem far from surprised as this tension and frustration is felt all across the country.
Corporations and the Extremely Wealthy
One social media user said, “The real problem is that we, the average citizens, have virtually NO say in what happens with our government or society, because of the influence of corporations and the extremely wealthy.”
Benefiting From the System
A second social media user commented, “The people who are happy with the system are people benefiting from the system. Ironically the same people can’t fathom how anyone doesn’t like it.”
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