That is the percentage of Americans who think this country is heading in the wrong direction. It is the highest percentage of people who think we've gone off the rails since the New York Times and CBS started tracking answers to that question in the early 90's.
In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002.I take encouragement from that last sentence. Americans are deeply worried about the country even though they personally are doing okay.
Although the public mood has been darkening since the early days of the war in Iraq, it has taken a new turn for the worse in the last few months, as the economy has seemed to slip into recession. There is now nearly a national consensus that the country faces significant problems.
A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.
The dissatisfaction is especially striking because public opinion usually hits its low point only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one. Today, however, Americans report being deeply worried about the country even though many say their own personal finances are still in fairly good shape.
It's about time people started waking up to the fact that it isn't about them! If society goes to hell in a hand basket, what good are your creature comforts going to be? I have been waiting for damned near thirty years for the selfishness to abate, and I was starting to think it was a permanent condition, and that disheartened me greatly.
I actually view this as good news - because until we achieved critical mass, until enough people realized we were heading for the falls, there was no hope of pulling together to change course.