Much of what Herbert wrote on that occasion is still true of the condition of the country, although the economy and the unemployment rate have recovered faster than anticipated at that time.
But his observations on the divided political scene remain, unfortunately, true, and the elections this week did not indicate that any healing has taken place. Here is my blog post from November 22, 2010.
I read Bob Herbert's latest column in The New York Times and now I'm so depressed that I just want to curl up into a tiny fetal ball and pull the covers over my head. The topic of this column - as are the topics of most of his columns - is the state of the country. He doesn't pull any punches regarding what he believes that state to be.
"We're in denial about the extent of the rot in the system, and the effort that would be required to turn things around. It will likely take many years, perhaps a decade or more to get employment back to a level at which one could fairly say the economy is thriving."This is especially true since one of the major political parties in the country is not interested in governing or in trying to make things work better. Instead, they are betting everything on doing nothing and letting the country slide ever farther into decline and decay in the hope that that will limit President Obama to one term. That is their only concern, their only goal - ending the Obama presidency by any means necessary. If the country and the American people have to suffer in order for them to achieve their goal, well, then, so be it!
As Herbert writes, "The wreckage from the recession and the nation's mindlessly destructive policies in the years leading up to the recession is all around us. We still don't have the money to pay for the wars that we insist on fighting year after year. We have neither the will nor the common sense to either raise taxes to pay for the wars, or stop fighting them." (My emphasis.)
A country that the rest of the world used to look to for leadership and good ideas has become completely obsessed with following policies that are against our best interests and which the world can see are entirely bogus.
Again, Herbert: "All we are good at is bulldozing money to the very wealthy. No wonder the country is in such a deep slide."
The economic inequities in our society between the very, very, very rich and all the rest of us are growing daily, and one of the major political parties in the country is totally dedicated to seeing that those inequities continue and increase and are made permanent.
"America will never get its act together until we recognize how much trouble we're really in, and how much effort and shared sacrifice (My emphasis.) is needed to stop the decline. Only then will be be able to begin resuscitating the (American) dream."There was a time in our history when shared sacrifice was accepted as a good thing. It gave everyone a stake in their country. No more. The only sacrificing today is done by the working and middle classes. The rich are not asked for any sacrifice at all and so they have no stake in the country and are not interested in seeing it work.
And that is why I am so depressed. I no longer believe it is possible for us to get back to a place where shared sacrifice is considered a good and noble thing. Not as long as one major political party and all their rich allies bend all their efforts toward defeating the idea. I am afraid that Bob Herbert has got it just about right.