History Stories

Americans Are Hopeful About Their Communities, Less so the Country

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    Americans Are Hopeful About Their Communities, Less so the Country

    • Author

      History Staff

    • Website Name

      history.com

    • Year Published

      2017

    • Title

      Americans Are Hopeful About Their Communities, Less so the Country

    • URL

      https://www.history.com/news/americans-are-hopeful-about-their-communities-less-so-the-country

    • Access Date

      July 21, 2018

    • Publisher

      A+E Networks

Are Americans optimistic about the future? A recent HISTORY survey suggests they are, though that optimism comes with some caveats.

The survey of 535 adults found that four-fifths of them were hopeful about what would happen to themselves and their families in 2018. Most were also generally optimistic about how their personal communities would fare in the coming year. However, only 55 percent of respondents were hopeful about the state of the country in 2018, and less than half had a positive outlook on how 2018 would play out for the rest of the world.

HISTORY conducted this survey on December 13 and 14, just after Doug Jones’ surprising victory over alleged sexual predator Roy Moore in Alabama; and it’s possible timing could have given some Americans—especially liberals—a little boost in their optimism.

Even if that’s the case, conservatives still seemed the most optimistic about the future. Only 53 percent of liberals said they were hopeful, compared to 75 percent of conservatives. And although “hopeful” was the top ranking emotion that the survey respondents felt about the year ahead, the second-place emotion was “worried.”

Supporters of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Jones faced off against Judge Roy Moore in a special election for Jeff Sessions' seat in the U.S. Senate. (Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)
Supporters of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. Jones faced off against Judge Roy Moore in a special election for Jeff Sessions’ seat in the U.S. Senate. (Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Doomed to Repeat History?

One sentiment that was relatively consistent among survey respondents was the importance of understanding history moving forward. Ninety-six percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly agreed with the statement, “Now more than ever, it’s important we learn lessons from the past so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that Americans agree on which kind of conclusions we should draw from the past. During the Alabama election, Moore drew controversy when he said that the last time America was “great” was “at the time when families were united, even though we had slavery.”

That’s a starkly different conclusion than many Americans—especially black Americans—would draw from the history of slavery. And it suggest that while Americans may feel that studying history can prevent us from making the same mistakes, they are divided about what exactly those “mistakes” might be.

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