A new ABC News/Yahoo poll showed that half the American public no longer believes the American Dream (defined as "if you work hard, you'll get ahead" is still true, with 43% stating it was once true but no longer is. Other troubling findings:
** Deep cynicism about the political parties: 65 percent of independents say that it doesn't matter what party controls Congress in terms of improving the economy; as do 51% of those under age 55.
** Only 25% of Americans would want a child of their to run for Congress.
This is just a snapshot of public opinion during a very rough economy, but ultimately, our institutions have difficulty functioning properly if they lack public support. Distrust and cynicism make it more difficult to address fundamental challenges.