The latest report in the Restoration Calls series examines how the institutions in Muncie, Ind.—dubbed Middletown by 20th-century sociologists—have let down the Americans who live there.
"With few notable exceptions, the nation's onetime social pillars are ill-equipped for the 21st century," write Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton in the National Journal cover story.
This gallery takes a closer look at whom the system disappointed:
Johnny Whitmire is part of a group of voters most skeptical of President Obama: non-college-educated white males. Whitmire voted for Obama, but now he's angry. "I was middle class for 10 years, but it's done. I've lost my home. I live in a trailer now because of a mortgage company and an incompetent government," he says.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)
Loan modifications have been canceled in droves. Nearly a million like the one that kept Whitmire in his home were canceled.(Photo by Ralf-Finn Hestoft)
Former Muncie, Ind., Mayor Sharon McShurley had a disastrous term at City Hall: A council member was convicted of felony possession of absentee ballots (later reduced to a misdemeanor) and she took political revenge on the council president by laying him off from his city job. "We have ourselves to blame," she said, looking back.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)
In last year's mayoral race in Muncie, just 19 percent of the voting-eligible public cast ballots. The cycle goes like this: Voters don't like hard truths; so politicians spin us; so we don't trust politicians; so politicians pander and lie to us.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)
Pastor N. Dale Mendenhall of High Street Methodist Church confesses, away from the pulpit, that his church struggles to regain direction. Mendenhall's church is emblematic of mainline churches in America, which have lost worshippers and relevancy in recent years.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)