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opinion | tom keane

In the dumps with the American Dream

We used to be ambitious and enthusiastic; now the new normal is malaise. Shouldn’t we strive for more?

In 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter told the nation he had detected a malaise in America, “a crisis of confidence ... that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will.” That malaise arguably lost him reelection, with candidate Ronald Reagan forcefully rejecting the notion that America’s best days were behind it. Reagan’s optimism bested Carter’s pessimism.

Might the same storyline play out again this year?

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