Last week, we asked reporters in four political battleground states — Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — to talk to voters about this strange and unsettling moment in American life.
I expected to hear fairly divided political responses — the Trump lovers versus the Trump haters, the kind of fierce partisanship I’d heard expressed in hundreds of chats with voters since the start of the 2016 presidential race.
But it turns out that Americans have finally found something to agree on: “It’s all screwed.”
White and black, old and young, Bernie bro and MAGA fan, voters told us that they were deeply worried about the country’s future. Many feared that we’d crossed some point of no return, gone to a place where it would take — as Brendan Hermanson, a construction worker in Wisconsin, told us — “divine intervention” to solve our national problems.
Since President Trump was elected, Democrats have fretted about the end of the American experiment. We were Rome right before the fall, or living through the final months before the Civil War. Overly simplistic analogies of doom flourished across social media feeds.
Since the start of the pandemic, apocalyptic prophecies of a more religious nature have gained currency within Mr. Trump’s base, as well. As my colleague Elizabeth Dias reported in April, many evangelical Christians and others have seen the coronavirus pandemic and economic meltdown as a wake-up call to faith or even as a sign of God’s coming judgment.
Now, as the country faces the trifecta of the pandemic, the recession and social unrest over racial injustice, the idea of American decline seems to be moving mainstream.
Polling released by Gallup on Monday found national pride at a new low.
Only 42 percent of U.S. adults say they are “extremely proud” to be an American, the lowest number since Gallup began asking the question in 2001. Twenty-one percent described themselves as “very proud,” also a low for the poll.
Those numbers have been falling for nearly 20 years. But the decline accelerated sharply after the 2016 election and grew even steeper over the past year.
“Extreme” pride has fallen among all major demographic groups — including Republicans, who have historically been more likely to express national pride. The poll finds a nine-point drop in the number of “extremely” proud Republicans since 2019, the largest ever year-over-year decline for that group.
What does that mean for the presidential election? Judging by the voters we spoke with last week, it sure sounds like lukewarm enthusiasm for both candidates — and the presidential campaign.
“I am very discouraged right now,” said Symphony Swan, a Milwaukee school principal and visual artist, who plans to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “I am tired of sacrificing things that I expect from a candidate.”
Lisa Mañon, an executive assistant who backed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary election, wondered whether there was any point in casting a ballot.
“Better manners are the only difference in Biden compared to Trump,” Ms. Mañon, 46, said of the election. “I don’t see either person winning affecting me a ton.”
Mr. Hermanson expressed more logistical concerns. After backing President Barack Obama, he voted for Mr. Trump in 2016. Right now, he plans to vote for the president again — if he ends up voting at all, given the pandemic and the protests.
“Will I end up killing my mom if I go vote?” he asked. “Do I have to carry an AR-15?”
It’s been three months. How are you doing?
Three months into the pandemic seems like a good time to take stock of how we’re all feeling.
The president plans to host an indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, though the city’s public health officials wish he wouldn’t. States are in various stages of opening up for business, even as coronavirus cases spike in places like Texas, Florida, Oregon and Georgia. Here in Washington, D.C., a place with a mystifying devotion to mediocre brunch, restaurant patios were packed with maskless patrons this past weekend.
As we debate mimosa drinking and summer camp, a whole lot of people are still getting sick and dying. The country has surpassed 2.1 million coronavirus cases and 116,000 deaths.
How’s it going with you? How are you starting to loosen up? Or does all of the picnicking, sidewalk drinking and beaching make you nervous? And are you happy with how the government is responding to the continuing crisis?
We want to hear it. Email us at [email protected]. (Don’t forget to include your name and where you live so we can publish your responses.)
Is there anything sadder than middle-aged men challenging each other to wrestling matches? Yes, actually, when one of them is a United States senator.
New York Magazine details the cringe-worthy Twitter war between Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and Ron Perlman, the 70-year-old actor known for his roles in “Hellboy” and “Sons of Anarchy.”
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