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Michael Barone: Don't take the Onion's pessimism too seriously


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Michael Barone

Feb 22, 2018



Study: 90 percent of Americans Strongly Opposed To Each Other.” That’s the headline on a story in what on some days seems America’s most reliable news outlet, the Onion.

We laugh (or at least I did) because it strikes a chord. Americans of many different political outlooks today seem united in believing that we are experiencing the worst times in the nation’s history. Trump detractors talk about a neurotic Nazi establishing a dictatorship. Trump fans talk about a "Deep State" using secret protocols to undermine the voters’ choice

Both sides have some cause for complaint. But their claims are overheated. Anyone familiar with the long course of American history — perhaps a smaller category than in times past — knows that, whatever our problems, things have been far worse before.


It would be nice to get some aspects of the Midcentury Moment back (more two-parent families) and no one wants some of the others (racial segregation laws). In the meantime, read Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now on human progress in reducing violence, improving health, and increasing prosperity. Many important things are getting better.

And remember that the Onion is parody.

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