FEATURE14 August 2019

America the unsure

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Features Impact North America Trends

In the US, relentless national optimism is being challenged by growing uncertainty. By Mark Potts

crowd waving US flags in front of White House

The American character to date has been marked by a sincere optimism. From the first 16th-century colonists to the waves of immigrants that arrived since, crossing oceans to set up life in a new land required an unusual belief in positive outcomes and a heightened tolerance for uncertainty. These traits put freedom in the hands of the people, men on the moon, and the digital world at our fingertips.

But this intrinsic optimism has been taking a battering. Across the political spectrum, there’s a sense of unease about where the country’s going and its place in the world.

By almost all measures, the US economy is going great guns. Unemployment is at its lowest point in 50 years, consumer spending is strong, wages are growing and GDP is running at around a healthy 3%. Yet, according to Gallup, only 31% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going.

To get under the skin of this, Bamm interviewed a number of ...