During your lifetime, what year has felt most like a turning point for the country?

A new exhibit at the Minnesota History Center focuses on the year 1968, a time of extreme turmoil and profound change in American society. Today’s Question: During your lifetime, what year has felt most like a turning point for the country?

  • Clark

    1980, the year we elected Ronald Reagan and sent the worthless Jimmy Carter back to the peanut farm. RR brought high inflation down, interest rates down, high unemployment rate down, evil lying russian communist down. He fired Patco union when they went on strike. Economy grew while inflation remained low. Education and merit became important and those with both succeeded in coming decades.

  • Kurt

    2001. Specifically 9-11. The country has been a different place ever since. The world seems to have gotten frightenenly small all of the sudden.

  • Hiram

    The specific event I look to is the Florida recount of 2000. That was when it became acceptable for elected officials to threaten to reject the rule of law in the election of the president. I think that’s when America began to fail.

  • liz

    2002 with the death of Paul Wellstone

  • Hiram

    1980 is a good choice as well. The election of Ronald Reagan began the decline of the American middle class. It was the beginning of the “soylent green” era we are now in.

  • Steve the Cynic

    2008 seemed like a turning point at the time. With the burst of the housing bubble, the near collapse of the economy, and the election of a moderately liberal president, it sure seemed like we were coming to our senses and realizing the moral bankruptcy and practical deficiency of the supply-side economics and nationalistic jingoism that characterize the right wing in America. In hindsight, it was the spur for the right wingers to push the pendulum harder and keep it moving farther from the sensible center.

  • Zach

    Bush V Gore

    SELDOM has so much power been awarded to one man by such a narrow margin—and with quite so many Supreme Court justices at each other’s throats.

    Hat tip to Hiram

  • Sue de Nim

    I can’t think of a bigger turning point in the post-WWII era than 1968. On the other hand, things seem to be changing so fast these days that just about every year feels like a turning point.

  • Emery

    Kent State

  • GaryF

    ” the election of a moderately liberal president”

    Really? I’d hate to think what your opinion of a real liberal President would be.

  • Craig

    1978, when the Apple II computer really started to sell. Many people wondered what they would do with a computer in the home, now they wonder what they would do without one.

    The late 70s in general were the beginning of a wave of productivity software and digital information that history will see as equal in importance to the invention of the printing press.

  • Lou

    1973 – The year began with Richard Nixon being inaugurated after winning a landslide election. Then the Watergate coverup began to unravel and after the Ervin committe hearings, the revelation that a secret recording system existed in the White House, the Saturday Night massacre, and the articles of impeachment being written, the Nixon administration had lost its ability to function effectively. It is hard to imagine a year in which anyone had fallen so far.

  • GregX

    1985 – a friend was attending Wharton School of Business. He was discussing the methods of business operation he was learning and the theories of of how to use the assets of companies to increase corporate value. I told him it sounded like some goof-ball ponzi sheme designed to expose other peoples money/value to risk. He said I didn’t under stand that everything was protected. It was an eye opener that every aspect of a company was going to be subjected to more and more risk. since then, I’ve been very aware of the crazy rules that applied in large companies and how the executives who apply and extend this risk to more and more aspects of business prosper while average working staff earn less and lose jobs. Was it the sole cause – NOPE… Was it accelerating the process … NO QUESTION.

  • uptownZombie

    I’m with Kurt, after 2001 there was a change in attitude towards anyone who spoke out against the way those who could yell loudest wanted to go. Since that time there has just been a feeling of perpetual anger in our society. It saddens me a great deal that more people can’t just get along and understand and respect differences rather than belittle each other.

    2001 also feels like the year where the price of education really got out of control.

  • Philip

    1974 – Nixon resigns. That’s when any trust that people had in the government is completely eroded, cynicism starts its reign, and societal manners go out the window as rudeness and the sense of “me first” takes center stage.

  • Larry M.

    The day George W. Bush was elected, it was the point when this country began to go downhill, to do questionable things here and abroad and corporations and banks were allowed to run wild and crash the economy.

    That election if it went the other way the country would now be a better place, Osama Bin Laden would have been killed much sooner, we would have stayed focused on Afghanistan and be done with that war by now, the environment would be cleaner for future generations and Social Security monies would have been protected from the annual budget, we wouldn’t have cut taxes while at war and our country wouldn’t be facing bankruptcy.

  • Ian Campbell

    1999. I was a freshman in high school, and that’s when the massacre at Columbine High School occurred. To me, that was the beginning of America in lockdown-and-fear mode. It was a time of metal detectors and pat-downs, partisan and religious argument over who was to blame (Liberals! South Park! Marilyn Manson! The lack of prayer in schools!), and wondering which of your classmates was going to snap and bring a bomb to school. When the rest of the country felt as though they lost their innocence on 9/11, my generation was already very familiar with that feeling. For us, the post-9/11 world began two years prior.

  • Larry M.

    I forgot the most important thing, if GWB wasn’t elected the 9/11 attack may have been stopped.

  • *

    12/ 2008_ the election of our first bi-racial President showed the rest of the country that racism is no longer what prevents anyone’s success.

    2009_ still the worst recession since FDR days and yet, Michelle Obama has spent $350,000 public money on her vacations.

    2010_ national deficit goes from 8 trillion to 14.2 trillion in only 2 years and unemployment rises and stays above 9% while over $2 billion of tax dollars is used and then lost; $ used to pay off Obama donors, through the Energy Dept’s loans to the solar industry that employed less than a few hundred and most jobs created were through these foreign owned companies. 2010 will be known as the Fleecing of America.

    2011_ the #1 man in public office that is to protect American laws ( Attorney General Holder) accused of allowing guns to Mexico cartels responsible for killing our own CBP agents.

  • Merna

    The specific event I look to is the Florida recount of 2000. That was when it became acceptable for elected officials to threaten to reject the rule of law in the election of the president. I think that’s when America began to fail.”

    We allowed these kinds of underhanded behaviors to happened and they snow-balled. We lowered the bar and so other unsavory acts followed like corrupt corporations, and yes the wrongful death of Wellstone too.

    Part of the problem too is the increasingly fast paced technology. Everybody is into everybody elses business and trying to save themselves by stepping on others. The internet and access to it is inserting wedges between people and the truth, all the while the absolutely wealthy look down at us all as though we are pawns in their game. Our lives mean nothing to them, we are their entertainment. They own the phone services, the internet connections and they decide who gets to survive.

    We allowed them to get their foot in the door. It is time to slam that door shut and disconnect. They cannot operate without us.

    Soilent Green, indeed.

  • Sara

    In 1980 I voted for the first time, and I voted for John Anderson. I lost my naivete about voting immediately.

    In 1985 I went to law school hoping to earn a degree so I could help others. All of my classmates wanted to become “corporate” lawyers so they could earn a million dollars a year. I quit after a week, and I started a career in education and public service.

  • Katie

    I guess the obvious answer would be 2001. However, I might argue that 1990 was more of a turning point for the country. Wars in my lifetime feel more like our country’s addiction…rather than an emergency response to some deep tragedy.

  • GaryF

    “I forgot the most important thing, if GWB wasn’t elected the 9/11 attack may have been stopped”.


  • Bear

    “I forgot the most important thing, if GWB wasn’t elected the 9/11 attack may have been stopped”.

    Wow, so that means if Gore had been elected, Bin Laden would be our ally in greening the world through collaboration and celebrating our differences.

    The difference one “chad” can make …

  • Jim Shapiro

    For me, it’s 1968. As a highly impressionable child, I watched the news as the police rioted in Chicago, the US was losing in Viet Nam during the Tet Offensive and our troops murdered women and children at My Lai, and Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both murdered.

    A tough year for a little kid who wanted to love his country.

    We now know that Viet Nam was a fraud and folly, but we still aren’t sure who was behind the murders of King and Kennedy. Quite possibly our own security agencies.

    Lots of atrocities and lies have happened since, but my own disillusionment/enlightenment started early.

    God Help America.

  • Kurt

    2006 When I moved out of the inner city to an outer ring, middle class suburb and saw this state the way the rest of the country sees it, full of obese ignorant rednecks who care more about burning petroleum product in loud and annoying ways then the enlightened thinking people I always thought Minnesota contained.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Kurt – Ouch.

    But while 1968 can’t be undone, your 2006 move to Ignorantredneckville can.

    Life’s too short, friend.

  • This is NOT lucy

    “Lots of atrocities and lies have happened since, but my own disillusionment/enlightenment started early.

    God Help America.

    Posted by Jim Shapiro”

    That sparked a memory which could have happened in 1968 or there abouts:

    I recall being in the kitchen and looking up at the ironing board above me while my mother was ironing my father’s “Dress Blues” shirt. I must have asked the whereabouts of my father because the part I remember was my mother saying, “He’s in Nam.” Which was in a manner as though he had gone to the grocer for bread.

    I didn’t think twice about her answer, Nam seemed like a perfectly fine place to be whatever Nam was that was where Dad was and he was coming home at some time because mom was ironing his shirts.

  • suestuben

    Has to be “election” of GWBush. The day the music died.

    Reagan began the wreckage, but under Clinton, things began to turn around–for the economy, for our standing in the world, but especially a restoration of respect and decency for all Americans (and many peoples of the world).

    But then the Repubs stole the election with the help of the Supreme Court. The Dems were complicit because they did nothing to stop them. The slide to rule by the rich truly began and the democracy began it’s death throes.

    The only hope now seems to be a bomb in the middle of Washington DC. It would began an era of self-reliance for the states as we begin to reconstruct a national government “for the people.” Turnover the elected in Wash DC often and rapidly, or we will continue rule by the rich/corporations.

  • Jason

    In keeping with the literal meaning of the question – 1980. The election of Reagan “felt” different to me.

    There was an indefinable malaise that seemed to be going away afterward as people believed he would turn the country around. I didn’t vote for him, but I give him credit for changing attitudes, for good or bad, towards ourselves and the country.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Really? I’d hate to think what your opinion of a real liberal President would be.”

    One who wouldn’t refuse to consider single-payer health care, for starters. One who would have allowed the Bush tax cuts to expire. One who would have pushed for reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. Those are just a few.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Bear and GaryF, I don’t know what Larry M. had in mind with his guess that the 9/11 attacks wouldn’t have happened if Gore had been president, but I would bet that Gore wouldn’t have ignored the numerous warnings from the counter-terrorism staff the way Emperor Bush and Darth Cheney did.

  • Ed


  • *

    The date will be 12/2011 as the election year that either saved the country or put us into becoming the next Greece. Thankfully, the voter fraud that elected Franken won’t continue, as the Republicans of MN wrote today saying, MINNESOTA LEADS THE NATION IN VOTER FRAUD CONVICTIONS

    Yesterday, Minnesota Majority released a report showing that 113 individuals who voted in 2008 have been convicted of the crime, “ineligible voter knowingly votes.” This number could rise as nearly 200 additional cases are still awaiting trial.

    This is the largest number of voter fraud convictions from any election in the past 75 years.

    According to Minnesota Majority: “Minnesota law requires voters to register at least 20 days before an election so that the information they provide and their eligibility to vote can be verified by election workers before they vote on Election Day. However, Election Day registration creates an exception. People who register at the polling place are given a ballot without first being subject to the same scrutiny.”

    Minnesota’s 2010 election is now being investigated for voter fraud.”

    Franken should worry.

  • Kyle

    2008. It was the year before I graduated from college, and the massive recession crystallized the undercurrent I had been feeling for the preceding decade– that the old social contract had been shredded, and intelligence and hard work no longer led to success or even financial stability or security.

    The 2000s were mostly a steady decline in financial stability, where companies shed jobs and those who stayed worked harder and for less compensation anyways. 2008 was when it became impossible to pretend that this trend was just a blip, but rather that this is what opportunity in America has become.

    I dearly hope that I live to see this NPR question again in the future, with a more positive tenor in the answers.

  • *

    sorry for the typo on that earlier date..should have been typed as November election in 2012.

  • Jim Shapiro

    * – I agree.

    If the repugnicans win the election in 2012, it could very well mark the complete and final corporate victory over the people of the United States of America.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Evidently the employer of the shill who goes by Raul, Roul, Raoul, Kim, KimMN, and now “*”, wanted some aspersions cast on Minnesota’s election system, regardless of whether it was on topic for the Today’s Question. It’s an interesting tactic: question the validity of elections based on a couple hundred allegedly fraudulent votes as a way of distracting from the many thousands of votes that will be swayed by the misleading ads paid for by the flood of money that will be coming in the wake of the Citizens United decision. But it’s still off topic.

  • Kerri

    The year of the historic signing of Executive Order HC 420 by The President making cannabis and hemp legal in America effective immediately.

  • Sue de Nim

    I would bet that future historians will look back on the 2003 Iraq invasion as the beginning of the end of the American Era of world history. In hindsight, it will turn out to have been a more significant turning point than it now seems.

  • Roxane

    2001. When did we ever have to worry about jet airplanes loaded with fuel slamming into buildings, as a weapon? Perhaps it’s similar to Pearl Harbor, somewhat.

    I don’t know that 1968 is such a big deal as a “turning point” for the country, other than it was just a really messed up time in society.

  • Zeke

    I bite on the troll.. re: voter fraud

    Out of the 2.9 million Minnesota voters who voted in 2008, or about 0.004 percent of the 2008 voting population.

  • kimMN

    Perhaps 2011 will turn out to be the most eye opening year because we see the Occupy Wall Street protest backers using college kids and the unemployed as their sheep to promote collapse of our Republic to be replaced by

    the few radical elite that seek control of the country under the ruse of democracy.

    People are now asking these questions that NPR won’t address:

    1. Who gave the huge Wall Street banks essentially zero interest bail outs of a trillion plus and without any strings attached to ensure they would make small business loans to grow jobs?

    2. Why were Banks afforded a suspension of the usual accounting of capital assets which hid their toxic accounts?

    3. Why did the Federal Reserve have the Treasury in late 2008 and again in 2010 to print more $ and then arrange it so Wall Street could use bailout money to buy US Treasuries for a guaranteed 2% return vs. making small business loans at 4-5% risk? Because a 2% guaranteed Treasury note is a safer bet than giving small business loans especially when they got the money for free from tax payers.

    4. Which Party received three times more donations from Wall Street than the other party? The CFC says it was the Democrat Party to elect Obama who received 3 times more. Why did the Dodd-Frank bill insulate big banks while threatening small local banks?

    5. Why did AIG get bailed out? Because the FTC shows Goldman Sachs had a huge liability invested in AIG, so if we bail out AIG then Goldman Sachs sleeps well.

    6. Why did the government employ a regulation as was used to set up the housing/mortgage creation of the Affordable Home Owners program, started by Clinton, then using Fannie Mae to cover bad loans?

    7. And the question of what prevents NPR and the other mainstream media from acknowledging that the biggest billionair hedge fund mogul, George Soros, has been funding the protesters through his multitude of groups such as Media matters, Move On.Org, and Citizens for American Progress? How many so called grassroots every day people protests have their own printed ” Occupy Wall Street Journal” newspaper?

    8.. Why doesn’t the media cover Stefen Lerner of SEIU for his speeches this year on calling for violent protests?? NO ONE will touch that story. Why? Because he is with SEIU and is protected by Soros because Soros donates millions to NPR and funds NPR’s new ” Investigative Jornalism Department “. ?

    Yes, perhaps 2011 will mark the awareness of how the government took full control of the media and that is exactly_ what the Obama appointee Cass Sunstein spoke of regarding how wonderful such control worked for Hugo Chavez and Castro and how our government should exert greater control over the media…..In the mid 1900’s that type of talk would lead to his arrest for treason.

  • Steve the Cync

    But, KimMn, “the few radical elite that seek control of the country under the ruse of democracy” are the plutocrats that the Occupy protesters are protesting. They’re the folks who want to evicerate the federal government so business can run roughshod over the poor and middle class, who object to any attempt to address the growing wealth divide, who equate capitalism with the “pursuit of happiness,” who think that any regulation of business is an infringement on personal liberty, who mistakenly construe the Constition as protecting freedom of commerce, who celebrate the abominable Citizens United decision that conferred freedom of speech on corporations, and who appear to be paying you to write your ridiculous innuendo-filled rants against Obama and the Democrats.

  • kimMN

    But Steve the cynic has a good point.

    Why aren’t the Occupy Wall Streeters protesting at the White House? Wasn’t it Obama who signed the Dems’ propping up the banks with the Dodd-Frank bill and wasn’t it Obama who made a no strings attached bail out to the big banks and to numerous solar companies that went bankrupt?

    If they were serious, they should demand Congress pass a bill to stop hedge funds from making shorts_ no more betting that a stock will go down to make $ on that prediction. Stock bets would be for growth only..that alone would slow the corruption of manipulating which companies succeed since their investment assets in stock would be more solvent over a longer time.

    I saw that Charlie Rangel was down at the Wall Street protests and HE voted for the bail outs. Dem. Nancy Pelosi supports the protesters, that include the anarchists and the so called anti-capitalism Marxist group….that’s pathetic. Don’t those protesters know that it was capitalism that brought them the I pod and cell phones and the medicine their parents take???

  • Liam


    When there is a fire burning out of control you do whatever it takes to fight the fire. You throw as much water on it as possible and use all the tools that are available in order to put the fire out. THEN after the fire is out you can sit around and Monday morning quarterback the whole process.

    They did what they had to do and now folks turn it into a political process of woulda, shoulda and coulda. Which are the holy trinity for ideologues ….

  • Steve the Cynic

    KimMN, do you read before you respond? Do you read what you write before you hit “Post”? I was stunned to read this in your latest missive: “If they were serious, they should demand Congress pass a bill to stop hedge funds from making shorts_ no more betting that a stock will go down to make $ on that prediction.” Wouldn’t that be the kind of regulation (“government interference in the free market”) that you’re usually rabidly opposed to? What happened? Ran out of talking points to copy & paste and had to think for yourself?

  • dick holt

    9/11, not only the event itself, but for the long term impact on the country. The emergence of deep sense of fear/discomfort with the “other”. Anyone not in one’s immediate peer group is subject to suspicion. Loss of the belief that all humans are part of one community and we have a responsibility for making that community better and more healthy.

  • Phil

    Probably 1980 when Reagan got elected. He began to dismantle the New Deal and worked to create a society where there was no longer a middle class. He began the era of have and have nots. Unfortunately there are far more have nots today than ever before. He also brought religion into politics as it had never been before. Religion in politics is a sign of a society on the decline.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Dick Holt, how is that different from before 9/11/’01? Hasn’t there always been a “deep sense of fear/discomfort with the ‘other'”? Hasn’t there always been suspicion of “anyone not in one’s immediate peer group”? And when have people ever really believed that “all humans are part of one community and we have a responsibility for making that community better and more healthy”? Those are indeed ideals that many have subscribed to, but when have they ever been lived out by anything close to a majority in any country anywhere? The 9/11 attacks brought out some of the worst in us, but that worst was already there waiting to be brought out.