What Rough Beast?

The news is gloomy.  Our national debt is greater than we think. Our populations are regressing to fatalism and dependency . Some of us have lost those exceptional qualities and virtues that made America such a success.  But now we are in decline. We are losing our will to play a leading part in the world. Unemployment and a distorted market seem to be our fate.

The decline will mean a weakened dollar, higher taxes, less innovation, but more social welfare programs. The free and independent citizen morphs into a cllient of the state. Housing, food, education, healthcare, elder care--all the needs once nurtured by the family are to be managed by the state. And as our domestic need grows ever, our ability to spend abroad declines and with that our influence in the world.  Mark Stein points to the cases of England and France.  Each was the center of an empire and defined civilization, yet within eighty to a hundred years each was an empty shell living off its former strength--and, not incidentally, each protected in its decline by the Americans.

Now it is America's turn to decline, some say. Even the President of the United States thinks American exceptionalism is mostly myth.  We are all the same, under the skin.It's time for us to get off our high horses and join the community of nations. Such thinking, say the doomsters, is itself a sign of the decline.

But what follows if the doomsday scenario comes to pass?  Will the new world order post-
America preserve anything of what made America exceptional? Or will that exceptionalism prove ephemeral or even illusory, as some seem to believe?  Will we end up like Athens and Rome--glorious for a time but utterly vanished (except for cultural influenes) and in utter ruin?