The Harris Poll's Alienation Index has stayed nearly the same (actually it’s gone down one point) from last year … meaning we, as Americans, essentially feel just as “disaffected,” “isolated,” and even “hostile”… according to my Microsoft Word thesaurus… as we did last year.
That’s the bad news.
Now, here’s the good news…We appear to feel significantly less alienated today than we have in the previous two decades, and we feel less alienated now under the tutelage of Barack Obama than under Clinton, Bush (the father), Reagan, Carter and Ford.
But hold up, before we start popping the champagne of peace, love and understanding, there’s also some confusing news…Our level of alienation is about the same today as it was under George W? And we feel less alienated now than when we did when the economy was booming? When we weren’t at war? When we all had jobs? So go figure…
When we parse apart the statements that make up the Index (separating those that are more political from those that are more social or economic in nature), we can provide a little more detail to the story.
In terms of agreement (which means higher alienation), Americans today are more likely to feel that:
- The rich get richer and the poor get poorer = ↑ 2
- You’re left out of things going on around you = ↑ 2
And less likely to feel that:
- The people running the country don’t really care what happens to you = ↓ 3
- What you think doesn’t count very much anymore = ↓ 4
- Most people with power try to take advantage of people like yourself = ↓ 4
Maybe this Index is somewhat emotional and not altogether rational. But there is some evidence that Americans today are more likely to feel that their voice is being heard, even if the economy is tanking and their world is spinning…Score a small 1 for Barack Obama.