Bulletin: the United States just elected Barack Obama. That’s a pretty strong sign of a still-vibrant democracy. And functioning democracy is the best defense against true, non-cyclical decline.
All societies make dreadful mistakes. Democracies retain the capacity for self-correction. At times in the last eight years I’ve wondered whether democracy in America would self-destruct — that is, whether we’d lose the capacity for true choice of leaders by yielding up our civil liberties, devising ever more potent forms of disinformation in our campaigns, gerrymandering comeptitiveness out of existence, and creating such symbiosis between the Republican party and lobbyists that Democrats could never truly compete again. But the system’s antibodies proved strong, and Obama supercharged them.
Relative economic decline is inevitable and to be desired. Would we wish 2/3 of the world’s people to remain poor? If we want a world of wealthy, sustainable democracies, we can’t wish for eternal U.S. hegemony. The question is whether the U.S. can restore its own economic growth, reverse growing income inequality, and renew its capacity to lead by example.
And in another key:
"Decay, decay, decay,
Decline, decline, decline..."
"Yada yada yada,
we're fine, we're fine, we're fine."