2010–2019: A Decade Of Loss. 2020–2029: A Decade For Recovery.
The decade 2010–2019 for the United States, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, was one that “ended not with a bang but with a whimper.”
Some of that whimper was President Donald Trump bemoaning the unjustness of his impeachment by the U.S. House. Some of it was writers looking back retrospectively and commenting on those ten years.
In their assessment, this past decade was not one of joy and American progress but one of sadness and retreat. The cover page of the Sunday Review section of of the New York Times for December 29, 2019 labeled 2010–2019, “A Decade of Distrust.” In a special opinion piece on December 26, 2019, six Washington Post columnists provided their words describing the decade of the 2010s. The labels they applied included “unraveling,” “anxiety”, and “dissonance.”
Reflecting on the Past Decade
Our assessment is similar to those. We view 2010–2019 as a decade of loss.
The losses came on many fronts. Within the U.S. itself, there was a loss of faith; a loss of hope; and a loss of charity. Around the world, there was a loss of America’s leadership position on major global issues and a loss of respect from other countries for the United States.
The loss of faith ran across the board. It was a loss of faith in our political system, our government, our institutions, and in each other. (See our January 2, 2020 post for specific details and commentary on the nature of this loss.)
The loss of hope was in the American dream and in the American democracy. This loss was driven by increased inequality; a changing middle class; significantly greater influence of the wealthy and big business over government and in society; an almost completely dysfunctional Congress; and a large percentage of jobs that don’t pay a living wage. (We addressed these issues early in the decade in our two books, Renewing the American Dream: A Citizen’s Guide for Restoring Our Competitive Advantage (2010) and Working the Pivot Points: To Make America Work Again (2013). We have also written about them frequently through the decade and in blogs posted over the last two years of the decade.)
The loss of charity came with Donald Trump’s campaigning for and winning the…