IMPACT
07/19/2013 02:05 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2013

Mark Penn, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Takes The Nation's Pulse And Finds Us Polarized And Pessimistic (VIDEO)

Microsoft's corporate vice president, Mark Penn, sat down with HuffPost Live during the Ideas Festival in Aspen last month to discuss the almost unprecedented negativity in the mood of the American public.

Penn, inventor of the overnight poll, analyzed the results of this year's American Values Survey, which was released by the Atlantic and the Aspen Institute in June. His findings showed an America more polarized and pessimistic than it's been since the Great Depression.

"An entire generation of young people has grown up never knowing what it's like to be kind of in an optimistic America. That's never happened before," he said.

The poll helped identify factors that have contributed to national divisiveness, including politicians catering to the wealthy and failing to cooperate across party lines. Interestingly, he found President Obama to be at once "the single most unifying person in the country and the most divisive."

However, Penn says there's reason to be optimistic about America's future.

For instance, an overwhelming majority of Americans (96 percent) are hoping to restore unity in America. We are also seeing unprecedented levels of tolerance for issues that once split the country down the middle, like, for example, gay marriage.

"America has a very interesting definition of unity, because unity in America is letting people have freedom of religion, freedom of speech," he said. "The more tolerant America becomes.. the more united it is."

This video is part of a series of interviews with speakers, attendees and panelists at The Aspen Ideas Festival, produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with The Aspen Institute. For more videos from the series, click here. For more information about The Aspen Institute, click here.

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