America Has Gone Off the Rails and Steven Brill Sees Ways to Get It Back on Track

Daniel W. Drezner in the New York Times:

According to Gallup, in the first week of January 2004 more than half of surveyed Americans were satisfied with the direction of the country. Within a few weeks, however, that number had fallen below 50 percent. It has never recovered. Since the 2008 financial crisis, it has not cracked 40 percent. For well over a decade, a supermajority of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Pew surveys consistently show that a majority of Americans believe that their children will be financially worse off than they are. At the present time, citizens do not believe that America is great.

This perceived decline and fall of the United States has inspired a 21st-century cottage industry of books devoted to how things went off course. They range from the journalistic (George Packer’s “The Unwinding”) to the sociological (Robert Putnam’s “Our Kids”) to the economic (Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century”) to the political (Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson’s “Winner-Take-All Politics”). Many of these books tackle similar themes: the rise of economic inequality, the increase in political polarization and the erosion of the mid-20th-century social contract that existed for white men. We are living in a golden age of authors telling Americans that we no longer live in a golden age.

In the Age of Trump, the bar for adding something new to this genre is high. Steven Brill, a writer, lawyer and entrepreneur who founded The American Lawyer and Court TV, offers his take in “Tailspin.”

More here.