DISCUSS: When Was America at Its Best?

DISCUSS: When Was America at Its Best? June 21, 2024

Historians can debate when America was at its best.  Was it in the era of the nation’s founding?  Was it during World War II, when the whole nation pulled together in a heroic and sacrificial struggle against tyranny?  Was it the 1960’s, with the civil rights movement and the counter culture?

Another way of looking at the issue is to ask, when was America at its best for you?  Andrew Van Dam of the Washington Post reports on studies that have been conducted on this topic in his article When America was ‘great,’ according to data.  After slicing and dicing said data by age, political party, and other demographic distinctions, he concludes that, basically, you think America was at its best whatever year you were eleven.

That makes sense.  At eleven, you are at the pinnacle of your childhood, able to do most of the things you couldn’t when you were little, and you have not yet attained the angst and trauma of adolescence.  So all will seem right in the world.

In my case, I was eleven in 1962.  The optimism of the Kennedy years, a cultural apex that started going downhill the next year after Kennedy was assassinated.

So this weekend’s discussion is the question, “When was America at its best?”  You can answer that in historical terms or in personal terms, when you were eleven.

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