The American Mood Is Enhanced By One Conscious Person At A Time

Strategy One, an Edelman company, is out with new survey results that paint a cup half empty scenario for the American economy and our frame of mind.
Almost two in three of the 1,043 Americans surveyed (65%) say a double-dip recession — defined as a recession followed by a short-lived recovery, followed by another recession — is now likely to happen. Among those who expect a double-dip recession, nearly half (44%) fear it will be worse than the first one, with 21% worried it will be “much more severe.”
But beyond feelings about where the economy is today and where it is heading next, fundamental doubts and concerns are being raised about America. The country is split on whether America’s best days lie ahead of us or behind. A slim majority, 52%, say they are ahead of us, while 48% say they are behind us. There is however consensus around another point – 71% agree that America is fundamentally broken and not working.
“The American public — characteristically optimistic and resilient — is looking around and seeing more and more dark storm clouds approaching on the horizon,” said Bradley Honan, senior vice president of StrategyOne. “Not only has confidence in the economy been severely undermined, there are now real, significant doubts emerging about our country.”
I’m not sure this is a bad thing. You have to admit you have a problem before you can fix it. For as long as I can remember we’ve been bumbling along thinking we’re the greatest country in the world, despite a plethora of signals that tell us otherwise.
What saddens me is all the hateful and misguided rhetoric that sours the air each day. Divisive forces in the media are a big part of the problem. It’s obvious that different opinions need to be heard and considered, but it needs to be done in a way that respects our commonality as Americans and as people.
Obama has been a great unifier in previous jobs, but not this time. The fact is no one charismatic leader will ever unify us. Ain’t gonna happen, so there’s no need to wait around for this purely imaginary moment. The real work must happen on the ground in break rooms at the factory, at your neighbor’s backyard barbecue, in schools, churches and bars and every other place where people gather to talk.
When a natural disaster hits, every person instantly KNOWS that we’re all in this together. Too bad our economy and the political affairs that led to it, and keep us mired in it, aren’t seen as a tornado or hurricane or flood. If we could see the economic disaster for what it is, we’d busy ourselves with picking up the pieces, instead of bickering about who’s fault it is and what to do about it.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. last three paragraphs: eloquently said and painfully true.
    politics aims to paint people into opposing corners, when it should be reminding us we’re in the same room.

  2. I agree with the majority of what you say here. Thanks for your simple yet eloquent way of putting it.
    But I do not necessarily agree that we need to focus on our commonality as “Americans.” The concept of a nation-state is an invention that was created solely for the benefit of an emerging merchant class centuries ago. It is the equivalent of a 56K modem compared to the better alternatives. And it is artificially foised on us by a ruling class obsessed with control and keeping the masses glued to the lowest common denominator.
    “Americans” are 300 million people. None of us are psychologically or intellectually equipped to feel deep empathy, commonality, or create an inspiring shared purpose with 300 million people. I don’t think we can even do that with 3,000 people.
    The polarization we see today is day after day of proof that people are getting sick and tired of having a milquetoast and corrupt “American Way” foisted on them by whoever gets slightly more votes. And whomever pulls the puppet strings on those who get the votes.
    We do not need to find commonality with all Americans. We do need desperately to restore tribal structures along ideological, cultural and community lines. There are opportunities for this to happen in the online and the offline world, and it’s highly practical if we do both.
    Once small-scale tribes form with a healthy and productive structure, they can connect with other like-minded tribes in online and offline networks seeking a common goal. In my opinion, that is what will achieve lasting results, rather than trying to jerry-rig back together the false construct of “One Nation Under God.”
    Thanks again for the good article.

  3. I love the tribal path, Mark. In fact, I’m all for breaking the U.S. up into six or seven smaller nations (something that might allow the tribal way to flourish). But however we slice and dice it, I’d like to see people develop more respect for others. Whatever we think about politics or religion or gay marriage of gun rights is not pertinent. Working together to solve our core problems is.

  4. Very true David, and in retrospect I should have said something about promoting tolerance. I am passionate about tolerance but it doesn’t mean I want to hold hands and sing “America the Beautiful” with someone I don’t have anything in common with.