Seven years after 9/11, the American way of life was again shaken to its foundation by the Great Recession of 2008. The logic of an unregulated market economy produced its predetermined result. The American middle class, the historic protagonist of the American narrative, became an endangered species. Against a bleak backdrop of indebtedness, unemployment, and rapid decline in traditional jobs and in the affordability of the essentials of health and education stands the stark wealth of the top 1 percent of Americans. With the vital center no longer holding and consensus fraying, 53 percent of the electorate wagered in 2008 that it could deny race by affirming its non-importance and thereby audaciously reinvigorate the exceptionalist narrative. The choice before us, however, is still much the same as that posited by W.E.B. Du Bois when he described two antithetical versions of the American narrative: one was based on “freedom, intelligence and power for all men; the other was industry for private profit directed by an autocracy determined at any price to amass wealth and power.”

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