Stuck Nation: Can the United States Change Course on Our History of Choosing Profits Over People?
By Bob Hennelly
Published July 2021, by Democracy at Work
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7356013-2-8
In the midst of this once-in-a-century public health crisis, the United States was almost toppled from within by one of the two national political parties that a white-supremacist authoritarian had commandeered. For decades, American workers had been losing their leverage, as the world’s biggest corporations were able to successfully play one country’s workforce off another. For centuries, we have failed to directly address the crimes against humanity that were the cornerstones of American capitalism and are part of the continuum that extends systemic racism to our current circumstances. Our global brand may be equality, but the lived experience of tens of millions of Americans is the stark opposite, and there can be no forward motion if we fail to perceive just how deep a rut we are in.
Stuck Nation is the work of award-winning print and broadcast journalist Robert "Bob" Hennelly. Its depth reflects his many decades of on-the-ground reporting, from the streets to historical archives and the White House. In his reporting and in this book, Hennelly bears witness to the ongoing assault of systemic racism, the toll from the World Trade Center toxic exposures, the attacks on our civil service by our own government, the breathtaking concentration of corporate media, the power of our collective agency, and more. It features interviews with the key players and shapers of history - everyday people - as well as with union leaders and politicians, historians and academics, organizers and activists.
Stuck Nation lifts up the stories of those whom our capitalist system would otherwise see ‘disappeared’. It bears the human cost of our system and our silence. It holds accounts of individuals and a broader movement willing to put everything at risk to change our national narrative. Through it all, Hennelly shares his observations on the origins of our national stuck-ness, his reporting on how it endures, and his analysis of what might be required for us to change the course of our historical patterns, so that America can begin putting the wellbeing of its people ahead of its profits.
American history is airbrushed,
and we wonder why we just can’t seem to master our destiny.
“Hennelly brilliantly analyzes our capitalist crises and how individuals cope with them, tragically but often heroically. He helps us draw inspiration and realistic hope from how courageous Americans are facing and fixing a stuck nation.”
- Richard D. Wolff, Economist and author of The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself
"With the skill of a seasoned reporter drawing from an impressive trove of scholarship and first-hand experience, Hennelly artfully presents a granular narrative of the political economy of contemporary US society that is simultaneously enlightening, infuriating and inspirational. Stuck Nation reads like a kind of updating and reframing of the modern contradictions of capitalism on a timeline that includes presidents Obama, Trump, Biden, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the Amazon gig economy. Echoing Howard Zinn’s classic People’s History of the United States, Stuck Nation is a must read for those interested in extending democracy and combating racism, especially trade unionists, educators and social activists seeking justice, equality, and a new world order— from the bottom up!"
- Joe Wilson, PhD, Labor historian & Political Scientist
“One of journalism's prized possessions, investigative reporter Bob Hennelly has occupied a relentless forward position on every major issue of our time: from housing to healthcare, from education, economics, and social justice, to voting rights and labor. A specialist in drilling down into the core of where real people live and work, Hennelly gathers his materials on the ground, to unleash the toughest, most uncomfortable questions on those at the top of the ivory tower power chain. While much of our contemporary media protects the status quo, Hennelly can be found rummaging through the back alleys and ravaged, foreclosed-on, job and food-deprived neighborhoods of Newark and New York City, using his own reporting as the brick and mortar to ram the complacent underpinnings of the country on behalf of working-class people. To those like myself who have long depended on his pieces, StuckNation gathers the marrow of Hennelly's work into one sustained, impassioned, and always detail-oriented argument, and serves as a primer for those who will no doubt find themselves returning often for more from the workshop of a master.”
- Max Pizarro, Insider NJ executive editor
“Hennelly provides reasons to hope - he shows how all across the US, community groups and labor activists are reviving the combination of practical organizing plus a truly progressive agenda that is essential to get our “Stuck Nation” — and our “stuck planet” — unstuck. A must read.”
- James S. Henry, Esq. Investigative journalist, economist and lawyer. Global Justice Fellow, Yale University.
“Hennelly has been chronicling the churning and burning global scene for three decades with wit and lucidity, making sense of what makes no apparent sense, linking cause and effect where none is obvious, and describing multiple levels of interactive disfunction and contradiction in economics, military strategy, the natural environment, democracy, and public culture. With perfect clarity, Hennelly depicts our Stuck Nation’s inconsistency, paradox, ambiguity, illogic, conflict, and flat-out denials. No small task, and a great read.”
- Peter J. Woolley, Ph.D., Director, School of Public and Global Affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University
Stuck Nation synthesizes investigative reporter Bob Hennelly’s diverse critical reporting around a central theme, summarized by the title. Hennelly has never been one to mince words. His tight pieces always have depth and analysis. And they are relentless and unforgiving. Stuck Nation brings these strengths to bear in making the most essential observations about what has happened to the U.S. We are indeed stuck, unable to fulfill the many promises that an open, democratic society should be able to address effectively. We see in this work that the blatant traffic jam in Washington is a symptom of much deeper problems that always get kicked aside. Hennelly reports on issues that are almost too painful to face and that few are brave and clearheaded enough to speak about with such clarity. Unless we face them, each other and ourselves, there is no way forward. Stuck Nation is an essential read that forces the critical conversation that we need to have if we want to avoid the failure of our society and understand how we can come together to fix it.
- Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D., Professor, Environmental Psychology, Ramapo College of New Jersey
October 16, 2021: Interview on WBGO: "Chief Leader and WBGO contributor Bob Hennelly authors "Stuck Nation""
September 6, 2021: Interview on Economic Update: "20 Years after 9/11, the U.S. is still a 'Stuck Nation'"
August 7, 2021: Interview on The David Feldman Show: "Robert Hennelly, author of 'Stuck Nation'"
August 5, 2021: Interview on The Brian Lehrer Show: "Power and Profits"
August 2, 2021: Article in Insider NJ: "‘Stuck Nation’ Author Hennelly Sees a Chance for Labor to Gain Ground"
July 25, 2021: Excerpt in Salon: "What's a "Stuck Nation"? America in 2021, paralyzed by injustice and inequality"
July 21, 2021: Interview on Leonard Lopate at Large on WBAI Radio in New York
July 19, 2021: Interview on By Any Means Necessary: "New Book Asks How America Can Become Un-'Stuck' from Societal Rot"
July 15, 2021: Interview on The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen
June 30, 2021: Interview on Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang
About the Author:
Robert "Bob" Hennelly is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist. He is currently the City Hall reporter for The Chief-Leader, a New-York-City-based newspaper that has been covering public unions since 1897, and private-sector unions since 2017. He is also a regular contributor to Salon, Insider NJ, and WBGO-Newark Public Radio. Prior to joining The Chief in 2016, he covered the global economy for CBS MoneyWatch.
From 2003 until 2013, he was a senior reporter for WNYC-New York Public Radio, where he also was a National Public Radio contributor. Prior to WNYC, he served as a national correspondent for Pacifica Network News. Prior to Pacifica, he was on staff at The Village Voice.
He has been a freelance reporter for CBS’s “60 Minutes” and in New Jersey for The New York Times. His writing has also been published by The Detroit Free Press, The Miami Herald, The Christian Science Monitor, The Bergen Record, and The Guardian. His work has also been featured on Alternet, Raw Story, Portside and Real Clear Politics.
He lives with his wife, Debbie, and their two rescue dogs at the New Jersey Shore.
Follow Bob on Twitter (@stucknation)