In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke a lot about hope, and his book The Audacity of Hope became a best-seller. His campaign later was all about hopes and dreams. But times have changed. Today we have the Tea Party from the Right, active and influencing the mainstream GOP. The Occupy Wall Street movement from the Left is still very much in the news offering a different assessment of what ails America. This is a time where the outer edges of the political spectrum are dominating the news and affecting the mood of the country.
The 2008 recession continues to leave its mark on families and the social fabric of the nation. This goes a long way in explaining the emergence of populist movements: high unemployment, huge deficits, increasing debt, and income disparity make the general population more concerned about the direction of the country than at any time in recent memory. Is the country on an inevitable decline? Are hopes and dreams just part of the political rhetoric spewed by politicians on the hustings? Has America seen its best days?