“The fundamental rule of our national life—the rule which underlies all others—is that, on the whole, and in the long run, we shall go up or down together.” 

Theodore Roosevelt


Americans today seem to agree on only one thing: this is the worst of times. We are experiencing historic levels of political polarization, economic inequality, social fragmentation, and cultural narcissism. And by nearly every measure, each of these conditions has been getting steadily worse for more than half a century. 

The Upswing offers a broad statistical and historical analysis of these seemingly disparate phenomena and exposes the deeper cultural tendencies that underlie our current multifaceted crisis. To a breathtaking extent, one inverted U-curve provides a scientifically validated summary of the past 125 years in America’s story. 

This meta-trend–the ‘I-we’I curve–has been characterized by a gradual upswing into greater interdependence and cooperation, followed by a steep descent into greater independence and egoism. It has been reflected in our experience of equality, our expression of democracy, our stock of social capital, our cultural identity, and our shared understanding of what this nation is all about.

In the past America has experienced a storm of unbridled individualism in our culture, our communities, our politics, and our economics, and it produced then, as it has today, a national situation that few Americans found appealing. But we successfully weathered that storm once, and we can do it again.

By presenting a new, evidence-based story spanning the past 125 years of our nation’s history The Upswing bridges many lines of fracture and offers a hopeful vision for a future that “we” can all work toward together.