By MARK PENN
Published Septermber 12, 2011
America continues to look for its true spirit in a post 9/11 world.
Just as the Vietnam war reset expectations about America in the world, so 9/11 changed America’s outlook in the opening of the 21st century.
Coming off of the Clinton administration highs of boundless peace and prosperity, the public was little prepared for the next decade that would be dominated by war, global strife, surging deficits and problems at home.
More than 2/3rds of the country sees the last 10 years as a decade of decline for America according to a TIME/Aspen Ideas Festival poll I conducted earlier this summer that probed Americans on the decade since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The country is going through the longest sustained period of unhappiness and deep pessimism since polls started to measure the country’s mood. Today’s teenagers can barely remember a time when things in the country were on the right track.
A country known for its optimism through adversity is having trouble finding the determination and the spirit that has sustained it through everything from world wars to nuclear threats to space races. In fact, a startling 71% see America as worse off now than it was a decade ago, including a majority of every major demographic group other than African Americans