Our friends at Baron Public Affairs LLC are out with an intriguing, if grim, new paper highlighting what they call "Super Trends: Drivers of U.S. Political Risk."
Among those trends, the firm says, is "social capital collapse." A series of statistics cited in the paper paint a somewhat dystopian picture. "Deaths of despair – defined as those caused by suicide or substance abuse – have more than doubled among certain demographics since 1990," according to a Brookings study.
The firm also mentions the soaring time spent on video games by unemployed young men without college degrees. A University of Chicago economist reports, "The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of 12, and sometimes upwards of 30 hours per week."
Religion is on the decline, "with membership in traditional religious organizations down 20 percent and the rate of those claiming no religious affiliation quadrupling since 1970." Americans are trying to replace the fulfillment they might have once gotten from religion with "the enhanced meaning people increasingly assign to food, the environment, exercise, and partisan politics." (A trend noted in certain respects also by Stanley Kurtz in his 2001 National Review Online article "The Church of the Left.")
The firm also describes what it calls a "Rock Creek Rebellion." A Washington elite that "thrived under a rapidly expanding federal regulatory state" is deeply opposed to President Trump, who "delivers the disruption this influential cohort feared: a 36 percent reduction in new pages published in the Federal Register."