I am struck by poll data reporting that seven out of ten Americans supporting President Elect Donald Trump think that American culture and way of life have declined since the 1950's. There is much to consider about this kind of deep nostalgia in Americans, famously known as being forward looking to a fault. But I still have to wonder — even taking into account the remarkable skew by age in the President Elect Trump supporter group — if many voters aren't experiencing nostalgia for something they did not actually experience directly. After all, seven out of ten Americans were not alive during the 1950's. In 2013, The Atlantic calculated that less than a third of Americans then alive in 2013 were alive at the time of JFK's assassination.
This makes me wonder if we are not more in the grips of saudade, rather than true nostalgia. The famously untranslatable Portuguese word, saudade, refers to a kind of nostalgia or emptiness that can even be felt for or about something that was not personally experienced. So, it is not so much remembrance of things past as remembrance of someone else's remembrance of things past.
What was health care like in the 1950's? Well, in the 1950's the price of hospital based care doubled, setting the stage for the substantial problems of access and cost that gave rise to the large government funded health insurance programs of the 1960's.
Just what part of this equation are we longing for?