Once known as the land of futurists and dreamers, California is increasingly home to pessimists. Often nostalgic, newspaper commentators, novelists, journalists and social critics issue jeremiads about paradise lost and the coming dystopia. California has always had its share of apocalyptic prophets, but these voices are no longer cries in the wilderness; they reflect a growing public mood in the once Golden State.
There is a racial dimension to all the gloominess. The downbeat outlook is in large part driven by Anglos, the state’s largest minority. Although they enjoy the highest per capita income and are significantly more likely to own a home than any other group, Anglos appear to be suffering from a bad case of “declinism.”
Whites still make up a disproportionate share of the electorate. They dominate the state’s business, intellectual and cultural elites. They remain the principal authors of the California story. And they have become the most pessimistic of any group in the state, according to an August survey of the Public Policy Institute of California. Fully 57% felt that the state would be a worse place to live in two decades. At 49%, blacks were the second most pessimistic group. Latinos (39%) and Asians (34%) were significantly less downbeat.