And yet, and yet. Pollsters at Pew and Gallup find that around 80 percent of Americans are satisfied with their lives, and believe they have achieved, or will achieve, the American Dream. That is true for Republicans, Democrats, blacks and whites. Only 17 percent of all Americans say the American Dream is out of reach for their families. Respondents to these polls generally believe that the American dream includes “freedom of choice in how to live,” a good family life, and retiring comfortably. Surely these samples capture the views of more than the 15 million U.S.-based millionaires (who, by the by, make up almost half the world’s total).
There are two reasons for the difference between Americans’ views of the nation’s politics, and their feelings about their own well-being. The first is that in what sophisticates on both of our coasts call fly-over country, there is more to life than politics. A vulgar tweet from Trump, a display of economy with the truth by a cabinet officer, a rant about oppression of the poor from Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, some incoherent babble from Nancy Pelosi are by now routine annoyances. A delay getting the kids to soccer practice, that’s a real problem. Or incompetent teachers protected by their unions, that’s a real problem. Or a winning record by a local college football coach that is not as winning as it should be, that’s a real problem. As for Trump and the Congress, leave them to heaven. Or until the 2018 and 2020 elections.