Where is America Going? Not Far According to New Report
When Diana Ross asked us “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?” in the theme song from Mahogany, I’m sure she wasn’t thinking about the economy or politics. But, a new survey looks at both and Americans’ attitudes toward them. Sadly, the results are pretty depressing.
So what will America look like in 2024? According to the “America Looks to 2024: The Atlantic/Aspen Institute Survey” survey respondents, our country will be even more fractured, the wealth gap will be deeper, and we will soon be surpassed by China and Russia. So, not the most positive outlook ‘Muricans.
Figure 1 (below) shows 49% of Americans believe the country was more unified 10 years ago, and 41% believe the country will be less unified 10 years from now. This points to the amount of divisiveness we see everyday through our endless streams of media. Everywhere you turn, the news is negative instead of positive. To add, a whopping 67% of Americans believe that money will become more of a force in politics within the next 10 years and 1/3 of Americans (66%) think that the wealth gap will widen.
To a certain extent, these results are expected. Money has been a force in politics for as long as money has been around. Those that have money tend to have power, and they also tend to have an insatiable desire for more money and power. Control of the political process makes these endeavors easier. It’s like an unending loop of greed.
And while this is all interesting, the data regarding ethnicity points to a divergent outlook on the shape of America in 2024. Puzzlingly, African Americans and Hispanic Americans have a positive view of their future prospects. Compared to their white counterparts, they still believe that the “American Dream” is real and that their hard work will pay off. Figure 2 (below) shows 45% of African Americans and 47% of Hispanics believe that America will still be considered that “Land of Opportunity” in 2024. Figure 3 (below) shows 44% of African Americans and almost half (49%) of Hispanics see working hard and playing by the rules as means of getting ahead.
In the face of all the barriers these minorities continue to face, it is shocking that these numbers are so high. I believe this can be attributed to the sea change happening in the ethnic makeup of the country. As whites have lost their majority status, they seem to be feeling the country’s bounty is less for them and more for others. Meanwhile, minority voices are becoming key to political races across the country. Thad Cochrane, a Republican incumbent in Mississippi needed to court black Democratic voters just to win his primary. And every year, the drum beat for immigration reform gets louder and louder as Hispanic Americans flex their numbers at the polls.
So what does all of this mean? It means that the world is changing rapidly, and white Americans overwhelmingly see that as a bad thing. For the full results of the survey you can go here, but you don’t need the full results to see how negative their collective outlook is.
The old guard that revels in the ideals of the 50’s sees burgeoning minority groups and progressive legislation as more of an attack than evolution. To them, their way of life is in danger. The Cliven Bundy standoff and its fallout show how heightened their paranoia is on this subject. Instead of embracing change and keeping in step with the times, many are clinging to the past (and their guns and religion). At the same time, the racial landscape of the country is rapidly diversifying, and every day, racial minorities are becoming more and more aware of the structural barriers they(we) face.
Taking all of this into account, the America of 2024 looks so dystopian to some whites that it may as well be a trilogy of novels targeted at the Young Adult market. In this imagined future, the wealth gap will continue to expand. Presuming that those dividends will unequally go into the pockets of white Americans, they will become a small elite class. Their money will be used to keep a hold on their political power. And all the while, the minorities will continue to work themselves to the bone, hoping to transcend their circumstances.
I’ve seen this movie before. It was called In Time. It was called Elysium. Or even Total Recall. Americans obviously have these views because of what they have lived thus far. Hopefully, racial minorities have it right.
If not, the next sci-fi thriller can just be called Life. That would be a two-hour long roller coaster jam-packed with riveting disaster.
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