America Needs a Life Coach — A Story in Charts

If you look at the polls, America appears to be having a tough time loving itself these days.

We’re in a terrible relationship with our government. The majority of us don’t like our president. We despise congress. We aren’t as popular with other countries as we used to be. And generally, we don’t like the direction we’re headed in.

So, what does the polling data say? Let’s take a look.


The Most Unpopular President in Presidential Popularity History.

(Trump) is the ONLY president in all the Gallup polls (going back to Harry S. Truman) to have an approval below 50% from day one. He has yet to surpass a 50% approval.

No president has come into office with a lower approval rating than Donald J. Trump. He is also the ONLY president in all the Gallup polls (going back to Harry S. Truman) to have an approval below 50% from day one. He has yet to surpass a 50% approval.

It’s almost like he didn’t actually win the election.

Source — Time with poll data from Gallup and American Presidency Project (click to interact with the chart)

He’s even at a new low in a FOX news poll.

Source — the internet

But seriously, Trump’s historically low popularity rating makes sense since he lost the popular election by over three million votes. He would have lost by 15 million votes* if you count illegal immigrants who would have liked to vote against him.

*This is a fake statistic


Trump’s Approval Rating is Down in EVERY State

You might say… well… there are some people who really love the guy!! But Trump isn’t just disliked on the coasts anymore… he’s even down and out throughout the South.

Source — Business Insider

Of course this is just a snapshot and it likely will change. If we go to war, his popularity would probably increase behind a surge of nationalism. But his policies are not likely to help him (if he is ever able to get them passed) win over these rural voters — simply because they do nothing for this segment of the population. Either way, Trump is a loser. And possibly, the historically biggest presidential loser the country has ever known.


Why Are Rural Voters Mad at Trump?

My guess is that the one area Trump hasn’t lost ground with rural voters is on hating liberal “elites” and political correctness.

In a recent poll of rural voters, Trump seems to be losing ground on key issues. Jobs. Trade. Immigration. Healthcare reform. All falling numbers for Trump in rural areas.

My guess is that the one area Trump hasn’t lost ground with rural voters is on hating liberal “elites” and political correctness.

In spite of what it seems, most American’s still hate Nazis, with only 9% calling Neo-Nazi views acceptable (which is still a bit alarming). While they may not like Nazi’s, they also really hate being told what to think — and they are a little unsure if they should say that they think the US needs to preserve it’s white heritage.

Source — Reuters

On the Bright Side… Trump is popular in Russia and Israel!!!

Trump is less popular than Obama in just about every part of the world, with the exception of Russia and Israel.

Source — Economist based on Pew Research Data

Why? Well it might be because of his protectionist leanings. Pew Research indicated it was likely due to the unpopularity of his Muslim ban, the US withdrawing from the Iran nuclear weapons agreement, withdrawing from climate change agreements, withdrawing from trade agreements, and his RIDICULOUS and POINTLESS wall. And it could also be due to their perception of his character.

Source — Pew Research

We Have Lost Faith in Many of Our Institutions.

American’s have also have expressed a lack of faith in our institutions.

With the notable exception of our military and police, we’ve lost confidence in just about every other American institution. We don’t like the media. We don’t like the banks. We don’t like big businesses… and we HATE congress.

I thought it was interesting that the police hadn’t lost much ground since 2006 in the eyes of American’s. The “criminal justice system” does not inspire much confidence however. Maybe it supports the idea that people believe there are a lot of good cops, but the system is still problematic.

Source Gallup Poll

America is UNITED in Hating Congress.

Congress has been living in the approval basement for a long time. Year’s ago, when it’s approval rating hit 5%, the Onion joked;“Psychiatrists deeply concerned for the 5% of American’s who approve of Congress.”

Man we hate them. They do NOTHING. They are the most worthless bunch of swamp dwelling horrid monsters…. And yet we keep electing the same exact people over and over again.

Source Gallup Poll

As a rule, we like the people we elect, but dislike the body as a whole. We re-elect the same people at a rate of over 90%.

Source — Open Secrets
Source — Open Secrets

I wonder what would happen if every congress person was voted for by the country-at-large? I wonder if this is related to gerrymandering? I wonder if we encouraged them to engage in discourse — instead of discord — if they would get something done? I wonder if term limits would help? I wonder if each of them needs a visit from the ghosts of the past, present, and future this holiday season?

I don’t know exactly what to do, but something needs to change in congress. If this were an unhappy relationship we’d start seeing other people, but it’s tricky cause we love our guy. But you know what? We need to start loving ourselves (or our country) more.

I’ll dump Christ, Nelson, and Rubio if the rest of you break up with yours!

Summer of love anyone!!??


America is Not Satisfying Us.

I feel like the question ‘is America headed in the right direction?’ is a bit too general.

I mean, usually it kind of is in some ways, and kind of isn’t in others. But I guess this is one way to take a pulse on how people are feeling about their lives overall — and not just about our political leaders or institutions.

Source Gallup Poll

In the overall satisfaction ratings over the past 30 years or so, we see spikes after 9/11 and during the Clinton and Reagan presidencies when the economy was good and the scandals were minimal (Iran-Contra, Lewinsky). But since 9/11 and a few strong Clinton years, most American’s are struggling economically. Fewer good jobs. Lower pay. And in an era of incredible productivity, the incomes are mostly stagnant.


But Here’s a Bright Spot!

It may seem a little odd, but we have seen a boost in our economic confidence. A businesses guy (and Trump supporter) who may or may not know anything told me that the business community had been expecting a bump whether it was Trump or Clinton who won this election.

Since Trump hasn’t done anything in terms of policy yet, is probably more an indication of either; improvements that came under Obama or people’s general sense that Trump will be more business friendly (hence that initial spike after the election and the slight decline).

Source — Gallup Polls

Either way, we seem to feel a whole lot better about our economy than we did ten years ago. So at least we have that goin’ for us!


Most American’s Are Getting Screwed.

“… the (average) American estimated that the CEO-to-worker pay-ratio was 30-to-1, and that ideally, it’d be 7-to-1. The reality? 354-to-1. Fifty years ago, it was 20-to-1.”

In spite of the economic confidence index, if you’re not a wealthy person, there is good reason to be dissatisfied with the direction of the country on the economic front. The rich are getting richer, and the rest of us see our family incomes remaining completely stagnant.

Source — Pew Research Center

And the income disparity is even worse than many American’s think it is. One study found “… the (average) American estimated that the CEO-to-worker pay-ratio was 30-to-1, and that ideally, it’d be 7-to-1. The reality? 354-to-1. Fifty years ago, it was 20-to-1.” (source)

Study published in 2014

This graphic from the Harvard/Duke study illustrates two things. 1. How dramatic income inequality is in America. 2. How little we recognize the problem.

The problem is not that productivity is down. In fact, America has maintained growth in productivity… but workers are not compensated to match the increasing rate like they were in previous generations.

Source — The Atlantic

So, yeah. We SHOULD be pissed off. It’s no wonder we think the country is headed in the wrong direction… so what’s stopping the bottom 80% from straightening this shit out? Besides Facebook, streaming TV, sex, pizza, cell phones? Nope. It’s our values.


Source: A very nice chart I found on Google images. Nicely done! (note this is from the UK and polling is from their population.)

Social Values Divide the 99%.

Our unrelenting commitment to our social values has kept American’s from recognizing the shitty economic hand we’ve been playing … or at least it has disarmed our ability to work together to fix it.

Politicians and the 1% (and the 5% under them who long to be in the 1%) have found that the one thing that will most distract us from our fiscal fleecing is to divide us by our morals. They can do that because they don’t really have morals. :) Morals are for poor people! So they buy some news channels and feed us daily red-meat-division so we fight among ourselves. And that plan is working like a charm.

But I feel like it’s time for that to change.

Most socially conscious liberals feel like we have a long way to go. And values driven conservatives feel like we have a lot of religion (Christian) and heritage (White) to protect. The liberal solution is to try and make this country more tolerant and loving by liberating our laws! The conservatives solution is to (at least) slow down the change, to encourage ‘personal responsibility’, and to protect existing laws. Something like that anyway.

But, here’s the thing. We live in a relatively free country. YES. It can be better! And maybe I just feel freer because I have basically sorted myself into a space where I feel accepted. But I think maybe the battleground for values should be more cultural and less political. I think our political focus should be focused on economic equality, first. And I think we should concentrate the majority of our effort on our art, TV, internet TV, comic books, movies, books, music. If our art has less sarcasm and more hope — it can inspire people — and is how you effectively promote values. People have to see it. Not in a law, but something tangible. We can ‘save’ people with our religious (spiritual) beliefs. Because we have the spiritual beliefs in the liberal bubble too.

In the liberal echo chamber, we’re worried about the Trump voter in the rural south and the rust belt. We’re worried about the alt-right racists. We think they’re making too much progress in the battle for the hearts and minds of America. Nazis are marching while holding hands with the KKK in our streets for chrissake!! (But, at least they’re out of the closet)

Facebook commenters from Rural America/Russia might make us feel like the world is full of aggressive, mean, and very illogical conservatives out there. It can also make you feel like there are some mean, aggressive, and very illogical liberals out there. But even though these people are highly represented in social media — I believe are a significant minority in the non-virtual world.

Facebook trolls can’t stop/won’t stop social progress. Neither can the alt-right, Nazi, white-supremacists. The writing is on the wall for them, and their ‘resurgence’ gives us the opportunity to study the last of them, and help them. While they rustle the feathers of those of us who want our utopia now… the truth is… these people can be ‘saved.’ And to do that we (the majority) need to live our values. That means we have to hear them, represent them, include them in our world, and we need to love them.

They want opportunity for their family. They want a future for their kids. They need to find faith in this country again too. Like Hillary said, we are ‘stronger together.’

We should stop wasting our time and effort on changing them with our liberal ‘logic’ and ‘facts.’ They make their own to fit their values — and sometimes we do too. Instead, we should show them what our world could look like and be sure they seem themselves in it — loved unconditionally. And politically we will work to help ALL OF US economically.

And then we should focus an enormous amount of effort on getting Millennials to vote so that we can get Baby Boomer’s out of office. :)


Talking About Our Generations

When I was a younger person, I used to think that old people like my grandma were just plain wrong all the time. I had no idea how they became so ignorant when I came out of the mom-chute a practical genius.

But now that I’m a middle-aged person I realize that things were just different then than they are now. Back then, the jokes were cleaner. Dresses were longer. Music was analog. TV was whiter. Food was cooked at home on a stove. You know all that.

So, most of the issues that seem like such a big deal now, were not even on a blip on a radar 90 years ago — which is when about 17% of our voting country-mates were born.

Same sex marriage. Less marriage. More divorce. Interracial dating. Abortion. Birth control. Buddhists. Muslims. Atheists. Transgenderism. Terrorism. Bra-burning feminism. Third-wave feminism. Climate change. Cyborgs. Star Wars. Genetic engineering. Gun control. Legal pot. Interneting. Facebook trolling. Presidential Tweeting. Life expectancy. Expectations of life.

If you’re not 90 years old, take a minute to imagine what’s changed in their lifetime. Penicillin was discovered in 1928. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1928. The ‘iron lung’ was breakthrough medical technology in 1928. Canvas gym shoes were $.89.

They are the first generation in which the (white) women had voting rights for their entire lifetime (won in 1920). Except black women, who in many states, weren’t actually able to vote until 19-fucking-60s!

These voters are doing the best they can right now in what must look like a crazy-brown-gay-robot world. They aren’t likely to change their minds. We probably ought to focus on listening to their stories and taking in their wisdom — even if they don’t vote like we do. We should respect them and make sure they are cared for until they are no longer with us.

Source

And then there are the Baby Boomers. They grew up after the big war and the atom bomb. They are the post-war-children of the 60s. They make up the largest chunk (37%) of American voters and they will be likely the last generation to benefit from country’s ‘safety net.’ And perhaps the last to gain (or suffer) from the current status-quo.

Source

Generation X. The coolest named generation. My generation. America’s middle-child. Culture creators. And America’s Last, Best Hope according to Vanity Fair. We have to work like Boomers but we don’t make as much money. We dream like Millenials, but we lack their confidence. We embraced the internet, but we can still use an atlas. We’ve embraced social change, but we’re not entirely PC. We did most of our fucking up before there was an actual permanent (digital) record. We are partly — not entirely — cynics. We are gentler rebels. America has yet to elect a GenX president.

Source

Of course, millennials are the future. As is often the case, these young folks are more progressive and probably all want the country to become socialist. One day they will be the old fuddy-duddies too, but as more register to vote, they are growing in size (these numbers in the charts shared are from 2012). Millennials are already a larger than generation than GenX and Baby Boomers.

It’s really too bad they don’t vote.


They Say It Skips a Generation…

Carter (Greatest), Clinton (Boomer), Obama(Boomer), GW Bush (Boomer). Our last four presidents have been Baby Boomers (including Trump). The Silent Generation has never had the presidency.
Donald Trump’s is now the fourth Baby Boomer in a row to become president. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Trump were all born in 1946.

Did you know there has not yet been a president from either the Silent Generation or Generation X? Millennials are too young to run for president, just yet.

Donald Trump’s is now the fourth Baby Boomer in a row to become president. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Trump were all born in 1946.

If Trump survives all 4 years we will have had TWENTY-EIGHT consecutive years of Boomer rule. If he wins again (god forbid) it will be THIRTY-TWO. Obama was a younger Boomer, of course. But imagine what new perspectives will be introduced when/if the Boomers leave the Oval office?

The House if it Matched America’s Generational Divide

Source — Bloomberg

Actual Current Age-Breakdown of Congress

Source — Bloomberg

In terms of changing the direction of the country, voting for a different generation might be the change-iest think we can do.

Although talking heads on the television after this month’s election are chattering about newly emerging social fault lines between Americans — rural versus urban, college-educated versus less-educated, white versus non-white — recent surveys suggest the starkest and most complex fault line may lie between the generations. Therefore, whichever generation takes office might also take the US in a different direction based on their birth year as much as their political affiliation and policies. — Source

Fewer People Are Extremely Proud to Be American’s.

We are now at a 15 year low in the number of people who say they are EXTREMELY proud to be an American. Young people and liberals seem the least enthusiastic claim extreme pride.

Source Gallup Poll

Obviously it’s normal for pride to fluctuate. It’s just a general feeling after all. I’m sure if the survey were done during or after Viet Nam — the numbers would have been low. And they would surely have been higher after WWII. On this chart you can see that after 9/11, our national pride spiked for awhile, only to decline again. Today we’re at a 15 year ‘extreme pride’ low — with the change more pronounced because of that 9/11 high.

It was interesting to see the segmentation here, with the most notable discontent coming from young people (ages 18–29). Liberals and Conservatives seem to be losing pride at similar rates.

Source Gallup Poll

Of course, the vast majority of American’s are still mostly proud to be from this country. But you can see the general trend indicates that our collective faith is a little damper these days.


A Healthy Love of Country (music)

To be honest, I sometimes groan when I hear people say they’re proud to be American.

It’s not because I don’t love my country. I most certainly do. Truthfully, I don’t think I know a single American that doesn’t love this country. But I definitely know some who are more apt to point out its flaws. What concerns me is blind allegiance to a country. Blind allegiance can lead to unnecessary division, whereas the freedom to be open about where we disagree fosters understanding which leads to more connection.

When I hear a people screaming “USA! USA! USA!” at a political rally it conjures images of a goosestepping fascist army marching through the town square. That said, I find the same behavior perfectly acceptable during the Olympics or a World Cup match.

Let’s say that I’m a little less Toby Keith / Lee Greenwood (though I love both of these songs) and a lot more of the Whitney’s national anthem at the SuperBowl (the last note gives me chills)/ Ray Charles “America the Beautiful” / Tim McGraw “Humble and Kind” / Woody Guthrie, “This Land is Your Land” sort of patriotic.

I don’t own American flag underwear, but I would wear a scarf — or better yet a replica of the US Olympic sweatsuit!

Old Glory Underpants

If you’re a Toby Keith / Lee Greenwood patriot. I still love you. I respect your passion and I am glad you’re on my team. May you serve as an inspiration for grace and loyalty to the rest of us. I’ll just be quietly praying that you’re not a secret fascist.


Also, on the Patriotism Thing

Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow : Football’s Most Popular Kneelers

Recently, there have been some differences of opinion on how our love of country should be demonstrated during the national anthem.

I am calling bullshit on this one. Because, other than the inflammatory, knee-jerk-intolerance of our ineffectual Twitting President (with the help of media that needs to fill a news cycle) the country as a whole is balanced and reasonable on the issue. Anyone still complaining at this point is just looking for a fight. Give ’em love instead.

It’s kind of an odd thing that we fight over our patriotism internally. Maybe patriotism is an odd thing anyway. Countries are made up of people, not borders. Connection and celebration is what love of country means to me.

It’s kinda like George Carlin says in this little ditty. Maybe we should be more proud of our accomplishments, and not our birthrights.

“Being Irish isn’t a skill… its a fucking genetic accident…”

Big Finish!

Welp. Anyone who questions whether or not I love my country should take notice that I just wrote a very long blog post about it that six people might read. That has to mean something!

So, let me summarize.

America is one big community of 323,000,000+ people. It is alive with five generations of diverse people. But we are governed as one nation. A group of united states and we ALL need to be represented. Based on the charts I just shared, it seems to me that we’re all a little so-so on our future as Americans.

Our president is widely believed to be a dangerous man-baby (even by his own party #alertthedaycarestaff). His support is falling, even among the rural voters who put him in office to help them. 90% of us despise congress (the other 10% are too nice). Our standing as a leader of the free world leader is falling. Young people aren’t as proud to be American’s. We’ve been at the mercy of Boomers whims and values for 28 years now.

It seems clear to me that the majority of us want change.

So, I am going to say what I think we need to do. If you’re a hardened liberal — like so many of my friends are #metoo — you’ll think I’m being trite. But, at least right now, I think this is what we should do.

  • We can keep trying to be better to each other — just do our best each day. (think Little Engine that Could)
  • We can ignore the noise of divisive ‘emotional offloading’ in Facebook posts and we can avoid doing the same. If we engage, we can challenge with respect and love. Most people just want to be heard and almost everyone listens better after they’ve been listened to. (think Brené Brown)
  • We can listen more so that we tell better, truer stories about the people we disagree with. (think you with a grand parent you love)
  • We can encourage young people to participate in elections and the process. We have an entire generation of young people we can mentor and inspire. (think Rock the Vote, but today and on the internet and vinyl record stores)
  • We can focus our political will making the economy fair again. (think Bernie Sanders)
  • We can be the love and the light that we want to see in our country (think Dolly Parton) :).

And we can break-the-fuck up with our current leaders and find a hot new sexy ones to make the old ones jealous.

Therapy starts today.

SOS (sorry so sloppy)