Bob Herbert looks at the past decade of U.S. domestic and foreign policy and finds it wanting. Well, duh; but he draws from the malaise a reasonable conclusion that strikes at the heart of both Bushy ur-conservatism and Obama’s Middle Path: we have given up.

We are submitting to this debacle with the same pathetic lack of creativity and helpless mind-set that now seems to be the default position of Americans in the 21st century. We have become a nation that is good at destroying things — with wars overseas and mind-bogglingly self-destructive policies here at home — but that has lost sight of how to build and maintain a flourishing society. We’re dismantling our public school system and, incredibly, attacking our spectacularly successful system of higher education, which is the finest in the world.

How is it possible that we would let this happen?

We’ve got all kinds of sorry explanations for why we can’t do any of the things we need to do. The Democrats can’t get 60 votes in the Senate. Our budget deficits are too high. Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck might object.

Meanwhile, the greatness of the United States, which so many have taken for granted for so long, is steadily slipping away.

I think it’s the “taken for granted” part that may contribute to this erosion of public education, social infrastructure, urban life and rural agriculture. Not the sole factor, of course — but complacency seems to be one reason the public has ceded control of its government to corporate priorities.

Spread the joy: