The Atlantic: Americans Are Losing Confidence in the Nation but Still Believe in Themselves
By MARK PENN
Published June 27, 2012
A new poll on values shows that there’s less faith in Washington, Wall Street, and even God. But Americans still think they can get anything they want through sheer hard work.
America’s values are in upheaval, triggered by the advance of technology, prolonged pessimism, and a loss of confidence in major social, political, economic, and religious institutions, according to a poll of more than 2,000 Americans commissioned by The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute for the Aspen Ideas Festival. The poll was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland between May 25 and June 6, 2012.
While Americans have become far more socially tolerant of different lifestyles, they have become far more cynical about Wall Street, the ability to succeed on one’s own merits, the future of their children, and even the existence of God, according to the poll.
America is in many ways unhappy with itself and the pop-culture it has become.
More than two thirds (69 percent) believe that American values have declined, and they point to political corruption, increased materialism, declining family values, and a celebrity-obsessed culture as the culprits.
Religious freedom is named as a core value, and yet fewer Americans are embracing any religion. Overall, 89 percent of Americans now say that they believe in God, down from 98 percent in a 1967 Gallup poll. The youngest generation shows an even sharper decline to 81 percent, though people often become more religious after they have children or start a family. By all measures - from basic belief to weekly attendance – religion and religious life are trending down in importance in American life.