Daily Video

January 4, 2010

The Decade in Politics

From the divisive presidential election of 2000 to today’s debate over health care reform, NewsHour correspondent Gwen Ifill and political analysts look back at the political highs and lows of the past decade.

For Amy Walter, editor in chief of The Hotline, the decade represented a breakdown in Americans’ views about institutions like the government, the economy and their own security.

The decade also saw a marked shift in the way that people around the world communicate with each other. Through social media networks and other new technologies, record amounts of people around the world were able to engage with each other and in the political process.

In this 11 minute video, Amy Walter is joined by Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and presidential historian Michael Beschloss to debate the lasting impact of the last decade in politics.


“I think, fundamentally, what we are seeing politically, too, is sort of the rise of the individual, that institutions now are no longer as trusted, including politicians.” – Amy Walter, Hotline

“In 2001, there was a feeling after that, that our government failed to keep us safe, obviously, on that day in September. But, even more than that, 2008, September, our government didn’t keep us Americans safe economically. Congress was asleep at the switch, regulatory agencies, certainly the executive branch. And that was such a huge malfunction, that I think there are going to be consequences from that for a long time.” Michael Beschsloss, historian

“Nobody would have thought 10 years ago you could make your own video, post it up on the computer, and have an influence on people you have never, ever met, and Facebook and all of those things. I think that — whether the number of people remain engaged, in terms of the total, isn’t, I think, as interesting — as important, fundamentally, as just the way that individual people feel like they can make a difference in the way they engage.” – Amy Walter, Hotline

Warm Up Questions

1. How old were you in the year 2000? How has the world changed since then?

2. Name some events that defined the past decade.

Discussion Questions

1. What are the main themes or ideas that you can pull out of this discussion?

2. What do you think was the most important event of the decade? Which political or cultural shift do you think impacted your own life the most?

3. Do you disagree with any of the ideas that these political analysts discussed? If so, why? What might you add to their discussion?

4. Think about what you know about the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s. Can you think of specific characteristics that help you separate one decade from the others?

5. Why do historians often group years together in decades? What are the pros and cons of looking at history in increments of 10 years?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript of this report

Download this Video

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