Sunday, November 6, 2016

What Happens After Tuesday? The Mood is Bleak

From Cathleen Decker, at the Los Angeles Times, "What happens after Tuesday? Dismayed voters weigh in on the future of a divided nation":

The presidential campaign eight years ago is forever wrapped in the soaring and optimistic Obama slogan: “Change we can believe in.” This one’s imagery is the detritus of FBI investigations, a candidate’s vulgarities, accusations of dishonesty, racial dog whistles, misogynist insults.

Any campaign belongs to its times, and this one fits squarely into a worldwide dislocation of the masses from the elites — those of governments, businesses, religions, media. In Great Britain, those sentiments led to the vote to leave the European Union. Here, it has helped to fuel Trump’s rise and limit Clinton’s success.

In an October tracking poll by SurveyMonkey, 50% of Americans said that the country was more divided now than ever before and that the splits would persist “far into the future.” Another 30% agreed that America was more divided than ever, but said the nation could knit itself together in the near future.

That left fewer than 1 in 5 people to assert that the country hadn’t actually sunk to its most divided state.

A cycle of distrust has bred pessimism, no matter the improving unemployment rate or other favorable statistics.

“Even when the news is good, people don’t trust it,” said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and political scientist who has studied the national mood. The randomness of threatening events — whether economic collapse or terrorism —  also “makes people jittery,” he said.

That sense of pessimism and dislocation is particularly strong among America’s shrinking white majority.

“Whites are feeling like the earth is moving beneath their feet. Whether it’s an African American president or immigrants, they feel the meaning of America is changing for them,” he said. “And it’s heaped onto the other insecurities.”

All of that can be found in the campaign...