Here's Why "America Is Broken" And People Are Worried

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Apr 08, 2024 - 08:40 PM

The NY Times on Monday published an opinion piece by UPenn senior lecturer and Open Society Project senior fellow (!) Damon Linker titled "Why Is Biden Struggling? Because America Is Broken."

And while it's more or less a recap of what ZeroHedge readers have known for years, the essay provides a sobering dose of reality for the "You should really watch Rachel Maddow" types.

Seven months away from a rematch election pitting President Biden against former President Donald Trump, the incumbent is struggling. Mr. Biden suffers from persistently low approval ratings, he barely manages to tie Mr. Trump in national head-to-head polls and he lags behind the former president in most of the swing states where the election will be decided (despite some recent modestly encouraging movement in his direction).

The question is why. -NY Times

Biden's defenders, and the administration itself, has chalked the president's unpopularity up to "a failure of communication," however Linker instead suggests "It's usually wiser to listen to what voters are saying" (beyond the obvious concerns about the president's age).

'Too Numerous to List'

Citing a January 2021 essay in Tablet titled "Everything Is Broken," and a follow-up essay by the same author, Alana Newhsouse, who wrote that "whole parts of American society were breaking down before our eyes," Linker encapsulates why Americans are so pissed (h/t Dean Baker):

The examples are almost too numerous to list: a disastrous war in Iraq; a ruinous financial crisis followed by a decade of anemic growth when most of the new wealth went to those who were already well off; a shambolic response to the deadliest pandemic in a century; a humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan; rising prices and interest rates; skyrocketing levels of public and private debt; surging rates of homelessness and the spread of tent encampments in American cities; undocumented migrants streaming over the southern border; spiking rates of gun violence, mental illness, depression, addiction, suicide, chronic illness and obesity, coupled with a decline in life expectancy.

That’s an awful lot of failure over the past 20-odd years. Yet for the most part, the people who run our institutions have done very little to acknowledge or take responsibility for any of it, let alone undertake reforms that aim to fix what’s broken. -NYT

Linker then writes that the above is why "angry anti-establishment populism has become so prominent in our politics over the past decade," which both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have capitalized on.

And Biden, a career politician, has been part of the problem (and therefore implicated in these abject societal failures), and is "badly out of step with the national mood, speaking a language very far removed from the talk of a broken country that suffuses Mr. Trump’s meandering and often unhinged remarks on the subject." (gotta get that shot in!)

That leaves Mr. Biden as the lone institutionalist defender of the status quo surrounded by a small army of brokenists looking for support from an electorate primed to respond to their more downcast message.

Linker suggests that in order to recover, Biden 'stop being so upbeat' - about the economy in particular, and stop making the election about how awful Trump is. Biden "should admit Washington has gotten a lot of things wrong over the past two decades and sound unhappy about and humbled by it."

Further, Biden "could make the argument that all governments make mistakes because they are run by fallible human beings — but also point out that elected representatives in a democracy should be up front about error and resolve to learn from mistakes so that they avoid them in the future."

"Just acknowledging how much in America is broken could generate a lot of good will from otherwise skeptical and dismissive voters," Linker suggests.

Let's see how that goes.