I don't especially like "the trolley is going off the tracks and the people who should care don't" pieces, but Peggy Noonan says it so eloquently. Noonan's lament isn't quite the same as Jimmy Carter's famous malaise speech (in which he didn't use that actual word); he blamed the American people in general. Noonan zeroes in on a more specific group:
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.
I hope she's wrong and, as she notes, it's nothing that can be proven. But not once in reading the piece did I think, "Oh, no, that's not right."
UPDATE: See the two comments attached to post for readers who agree with Noonan. Not everyone does. Phil Bowermaster tells her to cheer up. And Justin Katz wonders if it's really the "whole ball of wax" that's falling apart or just an articficial construct.