America’s Turning Point: Was It 2001 or 2008?

What can Americans learn about the future by identifying a fundamental turning point in their recent past?

October 6, 2010

What can Americans learn about the future by identifying a fundamental turning point in their recent past?

Barack Obama's election triumph in 2008 was an extraordinary moment for the United States. Everyone seemed to understand this at the time, Americans and others alike. It appeared as if voters had lined up behind a leader who would look at the world in a new and newly imaginative way and then begin to suggest what this way might be for all Americans.

They seemed to say, in handing Obama a large victory over the hawkish John McCain, Navy pilot, Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, "We know where we stand in a new century. It isn't

Takeaways

In November, we will have a sign as to whether Americans are willing now to accept that they have arrived in a new era — or whether they will risk falling behind in it.

The European model — one form or another of social democracy — now competes with Chicago School capitalism.

The autumn of 2008 will emerge as the point of exhaustion for the postwar American model.

During the Bush years, the nation was invited to walk around in a sepia-stained photograph of itself.

America may be about to flinch from a moment of courageous self-recognition.