Right now the question would have to be: what exactly is the USA?
What exactly is the USA?
This is really important in America's case, more so than in other countries, because "American" isn't an ethnic group or a religion or even a language and shared history; people move around a lot and are not deeply rooted and to top it off the family structure isn't very strong. All of these factors are what normally make up a "nationality". So the question, "what exactly is the USA" is something every new generation of Americans has to answer... and I believe it is getting more difficult.
When, back in the 50s "Engine Charley" Wilson enunciated his famous formula: "what is good for General Motors is good for the USA and vice versa", he was probably right, or it least the phase made some sense at that time. Today, could you say something like that about General Motors or substitute any other American corporation's name for GM's? Would it still make any sense? Try it with "Goldman Sachs".
Right now, we are looking at the possibility that the economy may "recover", but that its "recovery" will not mean any jobs. So we have to go back to the original question, The people? The system? The economy? Whose economy? What exactly is the USA?
I think that the difficulty in answering this question, "what exactly is the USA", is what makes the situation much more worrisome today than the crisis of the 70s or even the 1930s.