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How Nostalgia Made America Great Again - Issue 47: Consciousness

How Nostalgia Made America Great Again - Issue 47: Consciousness Read full article

20 April 2017, 7:00 am
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Make America great again. Clearly the message resonated. In 2016, prior to the presidential election, the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan group, published its annual American Values Survey. It revealed 51 percent of the population felt the American way of life had changed for the worse since the 1950s. Further, 7 in 10 likely Donald Trump voters said American society has gotten worse since that romanticized decade.

Of course America today has its problems, but many indices of standards of living show the general population is better off now than it was 60 years ago. We live on average 10 years longer, the education rate is higher, as is homeownership. When it comes to crime, The Atlantic reported last year, “By virtually any metric, Americans now live in one of the least violent times in the nation’s history.”

So why do so many people see the past as better than today? For many of them, it may well have been. Middle- and working-class Americans seduced by appeals to earlier eras may have had higher-paying jobs with better benefits, greater financial security, and a more defined place in the community. Perhaps they were happier. For some, cultural changes…
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