AMERICAN NOTES: A Different Fourth

Beyond the rhetoric of Fourth of July speeches, Americans have usually basked in the conviction that their past was exemplary, their present comfortable and their future horizonless. No longer, according to Hopes and Fears of the American People, a new study of the national psyche put out by Potomac Associates, a research and analysis organization.

The results, abstracted from data collected by Gallup pollsters, indicate that Americans in large numbers feel that their country has slid backward during the past five years. Moreover, nearly one in every two Americans regards national tensions as grave enough to "lead to a real...

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