Listening to cable news, talk radio, and our heated election campaigns, you might quickly conclude that the US is going to hell, that the best days of America are behind us and that the country is unraveling right in front of our eyes. To a greater or lesser extent, these sentiment are to be expected in a presidential-election year, when the out-of-power party always argues that things are bad and getting worse. But for the last several years, the apocalyptic sentiments are coming not only from most on the right but from many on the left as well.
Beltway Washington is going through a particularly polarized, volatile phase, as has sometimes been the case through the country’s history. Moreover, the amplifying effects of social networks and 24/7 information channels make it even harder to find common ground and get anything done.
But, what’s going on beyond the beltway, - in cities and towns across America? Beyond the surreal world of Washington politics, is the country truly falling apart? How are Americans faring, despite the hard times so many have been going through? What’s going on in the real America, where real people live and work and where the proverbial rubber meets the road?