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?


3 thoughts on “Saudade”

  1. I am wondering about Trumps promise to repeal Obamacare. Are there potential reforms(improvements) that a liberal should support that could possibly be supported byRepublicans? Health care is so complex.


  2. Mike,
    This is a big question. Maybe I’ll blog on it at some point but, for now, I’ll just make a few observations:
    1. The two provisions of the ACA that appear to be on the “keep” list (permitting those up to 26 years of age to remain on their family’s employer sponsored insurance and keeping the ban on pre-existing condition exclusions are undoubtably among the most popular provisions of the ACA but I’m not sure how many people realize how much the second is, in fact, related to a whole lot of other provisions that appear to be on the chopping block.
    2. I would think that things like promoting payment system reform and maintaining the ACA’s move to raising the standard for retroactive rescissions to require a showing of fraud or intent to deceive ought to have universal appeal. We’ll see.
    3. There are some topics in health care reform that did not make it into the ACA, as passed, that probably merit everyone’s attention in the time of Republican-Style Health Care Reform: tort reform and prescription drug pricing come to mind. We’ll see about these as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s