The government of the United States is not up to its job.
Review the past two decades and the record is shockingly bad. The two great crises we have faced, 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic, produced leadership failures that resulted in the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands. The other great challenge of the era, the 2008 financial crisis, while somewhat better managed thanks to a momentary outbreak of public-spirited, bi-partisan cooperation between the out-going Bush Administration and the incoming Obama team, ended up producing a recovery that primarily benefited the top 10 percent of the population and left most Americans struggling or treading water.
We have failed to rise to the great challenge of our era, the climate crisis. We launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that must be categorized in retrospect as failures. We failed to lead responses to global challenges, from Syria to the rise of China, to revitalizing the international institutions we helped create. Inequality has grown. Institutional racism has deepened. Old infrastructure has not been replaced. As Nick Kristof observed in the New York Times this week, the U.S. has actually been the worst performing country in the world on a key measure of national health, the Social Progress Index. Of the 163 countries measured, we are one of only three whose people are worse off today than they were when the index was launched nearly a decade ago. And our decline was the worst among those three.