Michael Brendan Dougherty on social anxiety:
There is a paradox afflicting our politics…It’s the contrast between increasing standards of living and increased social anxiety and unhappiness. You notice it in the headlines every day. By the normal measures, the economy is roaring. Unemployment continues to dive. Wages are starting to creep up. The market is frothing. And yet as all these trends have gone in the right direction your friends and neighbors insist that things are getting worse in America.
This is the background noise behind our politics today. And it is unsurprising that the two insurgent ideological trends on the left and on the right — socialism and nationalism, respectively — emphasize shared burdens, our duties to one another.
But because politics has become one of the only arenas in which Americans can collectively discuss the quality of their social relations and their sense of morality, politicians will at least have to learn to address an America that is wealthier and lonelier, that has higher standards of living but lives marked by quiet desperation, that works hard but doesn’t know why anymore.
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