Such was the case just last week, when all of the following headlines were published, by one journal alone (the New York Times), and just in one 24-hour period. Read them and weep:
"Poverty Levels in 2010 Reach 52-Year Peak, US Says"
"Obama Looks For Big Health Cuts, Worrying Democrats"
"G.O.P. Scores Upset, Claims Win As Omen For Obama"
"Two-Tier Pay Now the Way Detroit Works"
"In Suburb, Battle Goes Public On Bullying of Gay Students"
"Student Loan Default Rates Rise Sharply In Past Year"
"What's a Presidential Library to Do? An Admiring Approach at the Reagan. History, Warts and All, at the Nixon."
"Obama Offers Jobs Bill, And the G.O.P. Balks"
"Government Pays More In Contracts, Study Finds"
"Ex-Senate Aide Will Be a Lobbyist"
"Fast-Track for Disaster Aid Is Blocked"
How's that for a litany of shame and destruction? I didn't even include the garden variety domestic violence scandals of mayoral aides and schools cheating on standardized tests, or anything in the sports section.
What's most amazing, however, is the degree to which the American public still can't put it together. Imagine if you were capable of recognizing letters on a page, but not able to string them together into meaningful words. Imagine if you could identify individual biological organs but not add them up to constitute a person. Imagine if every Cheerio in your cereal spoon was a source of fresh wonder, as if you'd never seen one before. Now imagine 300 million people who can encounter news stories like the ones above and still not tie them together into a coherent narrative.
Let me make it simple, in case anyone wants to share this essay with their idiotic, Republican (pardon the redundancy) cousin Buford: The story of American politics over the last generation is the story of the transfer of wealth from the people to the plutocrats. If you think there is anything else essential going on here, you don't get it.