Must-Read: Jamelle Bouie: Is American Really in an Anti-Establishment Rage?

Must-Read: Jamelle Bouie: Is American Really in an Anti-Establishment Rage?: “The same people who disapprove of Congress will readily re-elect most members to the House and Senate…

…Just 24 percent of Americans described themselves as ‘angry’ about the federal government…. Forty-seven percent said they were dissatisfied, which is similarly low compared with previous surveys…. 85 percent of Americans said they were satisfied [with the economy]…. The number of Americans who say they are personally worse off has taken a sharp decline since the last presidential election…. Layoffs are down… job openings are up; earnings are up…. For all the talk of anger and dissatisfaction in the Democratic primary, it’s also true that a majority of Democrats back the establishment candidate…. And while there’s plenty of evidence for the case that Americans are angry with the political system—in a November survey from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 54 percent said the system was ‘stacked’ against them—this doesn’t jibe with the fact that most Democrats are fine with Hillary Clinton as their nominee or that—before Trump won—most Republicans were fine with a conventional candidate as theirs….

Despite this, Americans also insist they’re angry about the political system and dismayed at the country’s direction. And while primary electorates are far from representative of Americans at large, the obvious popularity of figures like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump speaks to something…. Voters aren’t uniformly frustrated or frustrated in the same ways, and whatever anger and frustration they have doesn’t translate to broad support for either of the candidates who seek to harness it. What we should do, instead, is try to pinpoint the nature of the most salient kinds of anger and frustration. On the right, the most important dynamic is racial resentment and white status anxiety…. On the left, we’re looking at the rumblings of a generation hit hardest by the Great Recession caught in the winds of rising global inequality. And insofar as nonwhites are frustrated with their place in society, it likely owes to moments of highly visible and still consequential discrimination…. But even this complicates the question of discontent. Blacks and Latinos saw the worst of the recession and the recovery: Among Americans, they have the strongest case for disrupting the system. And yet they back Hillary Clinton, who is running for modest gains over the status quo…

June 23, 2016


Brad DeLong
Connect with us!

Explore the Equitable Growth network of experts around the country and get answers to today's most pressing questions!

Get in Touch