Donald Trump has made much of the fact that the economic trend lines since his election have pointed in a mostly positive direction. But here is an indicator, from Gallup, that has persisted in its sharply negative trajectory since the new President was sworn in:
After a gradual decline since 2001, concern about race relations began to tick upwards in 2014, following the shooting of Michael Brown and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Today, racial and ethnic divisions are once again at the forefront of our politics more than at any time since the civil rights movement.
One possible cause of this, as Peter Beinart has noted, is America’s spiritual crisis, or what he calls the “empty-church problem.” The decline of organized religion has increased social atomization, reduced the space for common moral language, and accentuated tribal loyalties.
Fortunately, America is not yet experiencing the levels of racial violence and discord seen in the 1960s. But if the deterioration is not arrested, we could be staring into that abyss frighteningly soon.