CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Are things better than they were four years ago? Thats the question looming over the Democratic National Convention this week.
Its not hard to answer for those who remember what was going on in this country when Barack Obama was sworn in as president.
But many have forgotten.
Theyve forgotten that we were staring into the possibility of another Great Depression, that the stock market was in free fall, that we had just lost 800,000 jobs in a single month, that the domestic auto industry was on the verge of collapse.
The United States was involved in two wars, one of which overshadowed and took resources and personnel away from the other.
The deficit was at $1.4 trillion and the countrys debt was on a steady climb because of policies already put in place.
Osama bin Ladens unknown whereabouts had become a painful, bitter running joke.
Moammar Gadhafi was continuing his four-decade-long run despite his ties to terrorist attacks that killed Americans.
Health insurance companies were denying children coverage based on pre-existing conditions and kicking young adults off their parents plans.
Seniors were struggling to make up the donut hole even though they were benefiting from Medicare.
The children of undocumented immigrants who came into this country through no fault of their own were being deported.
And gay and lesbian members of the U.S. military were still being discriminated against, despite their sacrifice for the country they were serving.
Are things better now than they were then?
An economy that was hurtling towards another Great Depression has grown for several consecutive quarters.
A jobs market that was bleeding hundreds of thousands of jobs every month has created them for two-and-a-half years straight.
The domestic auto industry is soaring again.
One war has ended and another is being wound down.
About $300 billion have been shaved off the deficit.
Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaidas leadership is on the run.
Gadhafi is gone.
Children are no longer being denied coverage for the sin of being born with pre-existing medical conditions.
The donut hole has been closed.
Soldiers who happen to be gay and lesbian can now fully partake in the freedoms they help provide.
The stock market has roughly doubled since hitting its trough, returning trillions of dollars in assets to tens of millions of Americans.
Things are not perfect, not by a long shot.
The unemployment rate remains too high, as does the debt.
And the political environment has grown more corrosive, ugly even.
But many things are better than they were four years ago.
Back then, we were deathly afraid the country was falling into an economic abyss.
Today, we get to complain the improvement weve experienced hasnt been fast enough.