A Decade That Changed the Nation

A Decade That Changed the Nation

A look back on the stories that shaped the past 10 years, and helped inform the fight for a more radical and equitable future.


Explore all the content from our Decade in Review here—we’ve placed these exemplary articles in front of our paywall for a limited time so readers can now enjoy them for free!

What a difference a decade makes. For over 154 years, The Nation has seen political, economic, and cultural upheaval in America, but the ferocious drumbeat of the 2010s shaped a new media landscape: One defined by a 24/7 news cycle, amplified and accelerated by social media, and compounded by the financial challenges facing a free press.

Hindsight being 20/20, there are common threads we can trace to this current cultural and political moment. The dual and growing forces of monopoly and inequality (which we shone a critical light on as far back as 2013 with our special issue, “Bloomberg’s Gilded City”) intensified over the decade. But so too did public support in favor of the issues and ideals our editors and readers have long held to be important: questions of racial justice and feminism, a fair economy that works for all, and enduring civil liberties, environmental sustainability, and peace and nuclear disarmament.

Looking back over the past 10 years, it’s remarkable how many extraordinary contributions we’ve published—far more than we could include on any “Decade in Review” list. From longtime contributor Jonathan Schell’s powerful warning about how in the wake of 9/11, we have summoned up imaginary demons to spare ourselves from facing the all-too-real burdens of our time, to former national affairs correspondent William Greider’s crystal clear analysis of the end of New Deal liberalism, to longtime contributor Stephen F. Cohen’s prescient alert about the dangers of America’s new Cold War with Russia, to groundbreaking investigative journalism, to environmental correspondent Mark Hertsgaard’s pathbreaking articles about a global Green New Deal to bracing cultural commentary, to intelligent political analysis, there’s much to celebrate from our fiercely independent journalism of the past 10 years—and there is also much more work to do in the decade to come, as we continue to fight for a more radical and equitable future.

As I wrote in The Nation’s 150th Anniversary issue, “Change is inevitable, but the one constant in The Nation’s history has been faith—not in political parties or policies, but in what can happen when you tell people the truth. It is this notion that has sustained The Nation since its start: that and the idea that there are always alternatives—in history, in politics, in life—that would make our country and the world a more humane, just, and secure place.”

The list of articles below, while not at all comprehensive, pulls together the threads of some of the best that was in our pages and our pixels—much of it inspiring and prescient, and others, perhaps, less than prophetic. It is my hope that these collected articles give a glimmer of the best of our work, our abiding principles, and our impact seeding ideas that have expanded our national conversation and the terms of the debate. America in 2020 is at an inflection point, and The Nation’s work will continue—as it has in good, not-so-good, and bad times—to offer alternative visions and ideas, and to inform today’s roiling political debates—as we strive to achieve that more perfect union.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editorial Director

Looking back at what Katrina and my colleagues here accomplished over the past decade is both daunting and inspiring. Daunting because it sets the bar extremely high—not just in terms of journalistic impact, but in terms of editorial vision and courage and literary quality. As The Nation’s biographer, I’m well aware of our history, the canonical (and should-be canonical) writers who’ve written for us, and our many decades of fighting for justice and liberation. But it is good to be reminded that despite all the pressures facing independent media, The Nation has consistently managed to keep our voice distinct, our principles clear, and our eyes on the prize. That’s inspiring. And so too is the fact that while we’ve lost some great talents, so many of those who wrote for us at the dawn of the 21st century are still contributors. With such a solid base to build on, I’m excited about finding new voices, new writers, new stories—and new ways to tell those stories—in the years to come.

D.D. Guttenplan, Editor

2010: Blackwater’s Black Ops, by Jeremy Scahill


2011: The Search for BP’s Oil, by Naomi Klein


2011: The Audacity of Occupy Wall Street, by Richard Kim


2012: Trayvon Martin: What It’s Like to Be a Problem, by Melissa Harris-Perry


2012: Stopped-and-Frisked: ‘For Being a F**king Mutt’, by Ross Tuttle and Quinn Rose Schneider


2013: Why Are Children Working in American Tobacco Fields?, by Gabriel Thompson


2013: How Walmart Helped Make the Newtown Shooter’s AR-15 the Most Popular Assault Weapon in America, by George Zornick


2014: The New Abolitionism, by Chris Hayes


2014: Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars, by Michelle Goldberg


2014: How Trayvon Martin’s Death Launched a New Generation of Black Activism,  by Mychal Denzel Smith


2015: 150th Anniversary Issue


2015: No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear, by Toni Morrison


2015: The Most Important Thing We Can Do to Fight Climate Change Is Try, by Rebecca Solnit


2015: How Bernie Sanders Should Talk About Democratic Socialism, by Eric Foner


2015: Welcome to Fairmead, California, Where You Have to Walk a Mile for a Sip of Water, by Sasha Abramsky


2016: Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote, by Michelle Alexander


2016: What Happened to Sandra Bland?, by Debbie Nathan


2016: Special Investigation: Dying in Private Prisons, by Seth Freed Wessler


2016: Did Republicans Rig the Election?, by Ari Berman


2016: Welcome to the Fight, by D.D. Guttenplan


2016: An Unabashed Misogynist Is in Charge of Our Country. Now What?, by Katha Pollitt


2016: My Generation’s Best Chance Is Socialism, by Sarah Leonard


2016: Fidel Castro, 1926–2016, by Greg Grandin


2017: Throw Sand in the Gears of Everything, by Frances Fox Piven


2017: What’s Killing America’s Black Infants?, by Zoë Carpenter


2017: Can Black Lives Matter Win in the Age of Trump?, by Dani McClain


2017: The Department of Justice Is Overseeing the Resegregation of American Schools, by Emmanuel Felton


2018: Since Trump’s Victory, Democratic Socialists of America Has Become a Budding Political Force, by Anna Heyward


2018: 6 Perspectives on the Future of #MeToo, by Jane Fonda, Bryce Covert, Katha Pollitt, Collier Meyerson, Raina Lipsitz, and Joan Walsh



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