When the ‘King of Debt’ Is the President

Mr. Douthat writes that the 2010s “exposed the depth of problems without suggesting plausible solutions.”

I want to offer another take on disillusionment. All my life Americans seemed to believe that our country was practically perfect in every way. Exceptional. Until we get over that, until most of us can accept that other countries may have better health care at lower cost and that our citizens could be better educated, we cannot move.

I cheer disillusionment as a step toward the movements, leaders, spiritual renewal and structural reforms that Mr. Douthat longs for.

Christine Johnson
Portola Valley, Calif.

To the Editor:

Ross Douthat has coined a term that perfectly captures my mental state at the end of 2019 — “prosperous despair.” Yes, my bank account is fatter, but I am also often depressed and anxious about the world around me. For example, the devolution of politics into tribalism is terrifying.

James Carville famously coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Maybe true in the more innocent 1990s, but in the “post-truth” era, I’ve learned that it’s not that simple.

Janice Gewirtz
Mountain Lakes, N.J.

To the Editor:

Re “The Decade We Changed Our Minds,” by Charles Blow (column, Dec. 30): What troubles me about culture in America is the strengthening dogmatism of superwoke culture and its consequences: to restrain freedom of speech and thought, and to dismiss as intellectually inferior or immoral those who disagree with the flock. We need to make an effort in the United States to be content with disagreement, and to embrace compromise —something that, until relatively recently, anchored and enriched American culture.

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Political correctness embraces conformity over truth, sensitivity over reality. We’re not getting to the truth because it can be construed as offensive. Americans are walling themselves off from those who may have differing political opinions or worldviews, and in turn, marinating in self-indulgence and self-reinforcement. This lays bare a society that is losing its sense of common fraternity.



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