A Note from Bob Hennelly



Why "Stuck Nation"...?





I have spent my career as a journalist--more than 40 years now--digging into the details of how our country's public, private and government institutions work (or don't work) and telling the stories of the people running them or impacted by them. Over the last 10 years, many of our institutions and systems have stopped working--including the corporate news media--or at least, they have gotten away from serving their core purposes and their constituencies.

We are suffering from major "gridlock" as a country, with tens of millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet, or at least feeling that they are worse off now than their parents were at their age. How did we get here? Can we find our way out of this current environment and redefine a new American prosperity? Can we go from a public safety paradigm to a community wellness strategy?

We have become a "StuckNation" on so many fronts, that it's hard to decide what we need to fix first in order to get un-stuck: campaign finance, government bureaucracy, unemployment and "under-employment," the stagnant economy, public infrastructure, education, healthcare, law enforcement, immigration, agriculture, the environment, international relations... shall I go on? And how do we know whether the people in charge of fixing things have the best interests of their constituents at heart? Are we counting on the news media to be our watchdogs and tell us? Do they have the resources and power to even do that?

As I have often asked students -- and my own daughters -- to step back and consider when hearing the news, "How do we know what we know?" Do we have the facts we need in order to verify that the institutions in which we have instilled so much trust are telling us the whole story? This is why I have been writing under the title and Twitter handle, "StuckNation."

For years now, we have heard from politicians, regulators and bankers -- and repeated by corporate news media -- that we were recovering from the Great Recession and that the foreclosure crisis was over. But years later, only 7% of America's counties had experienced a recovery. Polls indicate that the prolonged economic stagnation has angered the public, because they believe the political system is rigged in favor of special interests. We saw Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump harness those undercurrents to appeal to disillusioned voters in the 2016 election season. Then, in 2018, the frustration with the unchecked power of a single-party government swept a new wave of progressive candidates into office.

How will our economic challenges shape the debates that will define our future? I have reported on a wide range of topics, from real estate development, the environment, and the economy, to politics, national security and immigration. I started my career in print (newspapers and magazines), then moved into broadcast (radio and television) and into digital (online journals and news sites). I have been reporting on this current climate in print, digital and broadcast media. On my "Profile" page, you can read my bio and on the "Articles" and "Radio Features" pages to read and listen to some of my work. I have interviewed politicians, from small-town mayors to Presidential candidates, and covered local, state and national elections for almost four decades. I reported from both parties' National Conventions for the last 5 Presidential elections (going back to 2000). It's fair to say that the 2016 Presidential election season broke all the molds on so many levels and highlighted the undercurrent of struggle and disappointment felt by so many Americans in the current environment. And the first two years of the Trump Administration, did nothing to improve things--other than for the already comfortable top 1%.

Certainly, now more than ever, "StuckNation" describes the state of our country in 2021. Be a change agent and stand up for others who put something at risk so that our democracy can redeem its promise both where we line and work.

Thanks for listening. ~ Bob