According to a poll just released by Quinnipiac University, Americans are highly optimistic about 2006 and, by a margin of 79 percent to 10 percent, expect 2006 to be better than 2005. The poll also found that 2005 was better than 2004 for more than half of all Americans (53 percent said 2005 was better than 2004; 33 percent said 2005 was worse than the previous year).
In other words, the conservative resurgence in America is a resounding success; a majority of Americans are looking forward to the future with enthusiasm and confidence. These findings are surprising in light of the mainstream media’s unrelentingly negative reports. One would never guess such optimism abounds amid an absolute avalanche of dreary reports about contemporary America.
According to critics, we are bogged down in a hopeless war in Iraq. Politically charged situations –– from Valerie Plame to Jack Abramoff –– are messy and indicate societal breakdown. In fact, some in the liberal media find hope in the negativity –– they believe it will force Bush to accommodate their political and policy priorities. In her article “It’s time to put a bad year behind us,” syndicated columnist Marianne Means wrote about Bush’s “idiocy” and his “precipitous decline.” Means claims that even his base –– “people he can usually count upon for blind approval” and Congress, the “Republican rubber stamp” –– has turned against the president. This evidence indicates, according to Means, that he will have to compromise.
That’s the message we hear, but what are the facts? Are there other points of view, other facts to consider and other polls to the contrary?
The popular weblog Powerline reported that the figures for personal well-being in the Quinnipiac University poll broke down along partisan lines –– Republicans are by far more positive and upbeat than Democrats. Around 65 percent of Republicans think that things are better for them personally while only 22 percent think that they are worse. For Democrats, on the other hand, only 41 percent think things are better for them and 45 percent think they are worse.
Another angle to this “enthusiasm gap” bears consideration. A 2004 Pew Forum analysis of politics and faith reported that more Americans see the Republican Party than the Democratic Party as friendly toward religion. In fact, the more frequently persons attend church, the more conservative their theological doctrine, values and beliefs on social issues, the more likely they are to self-identify as Republican. So perhaps there is a faith dimension in the partisan breakdown in the data about being positive and hopeful about the future. Actually, this correlation should come as no surprise; the history of this great nation is rife with evidence of optimism springing up from faith in the providence of the Almighty.
Despite the natural disasters of 2005 –– the tsunami, the hurricanes, the Kashmir earthquake –– positive trends abound. In an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Brian McCartan reports, “Since 1960, more than 1 billion people have pulled themselves out of the direst poverty.” Indeed, personal income of citizens around the world is at its highest level in history. McCartan, an expert in global trends, also reports:
- People are living longer and healthier lives: on average, seven years longer than they did just decades ago.
- More people around the world have greater opportunities today: Literacy is up to over three-fourths of the population and more than eight in 10 youth are in school.
- People today have more freedom than in any previous era of history. One-half of the world’s population lives in countries that respect basic human rights. Over the past three decades, more than 30 dictators have been replaced by elected officials.
- While the Iraqi war has brought vicious partisan attacks on the president, the number of armed conflicts around the world is at its lowest level since the end of World War II.
Such facts are often unknown; yet, those of us who care about America need to counter the media elite’s pessimistic drumbeat. Maybe it is time we all did a little more to spread the truth that most Americans’ lives have been getting better every year since 2004, and the majority of our citizens look forward, with enthusiasm, to 2006.
America was founded not just for the abstract idea of freedom, but specifically for religious freedom and the right to worship and express our faith. John Winthrop in 1630 spoke passionately about the “city on a hill” and the importance of keeping God’s commandments in order to enjoy His blessing. Despite our individual failings –– and they are numerous –– God has richly blessed us as Americans and our nation remains a shining beacon of hope.
May we each continue to devote ourselves to lives of charity and moral responsibility in the year that lies ahead and thus do our part to ensure that the United States of America remains a shining city on a hill that will endure as a beacon for the whole world. Faith and hope are indisputable elements of our American heritage and they must remain a central part of our legacy to our children.