Each week, the Watcher's Council hosts a forum, in addition to holding a weekly contest for best posts among the members of the Council. I have been kindly invited to respond to this week's question. Update: The forum is up, with several different answers to the question, all worth your read.
It is beyond question that our nation is in decline. We stand mired in historic levels of debt, yet massive deficit spending by Congress continues unabated. Regulations are being pumped out by unelected bureaucrats at record pace, working fundamental changes to our nation that could never pass Congress. Yet Congress sits by and the odd Congresscritter only occasionally impotently complains in speeches. Medicare and Social Security threaten to bankrupt our nation in the foreseeable future unless reformed, yet Congress does not just nothing, but manages to compound the problems with Obamacare. We have a tyrannical President who unconstitutionally threatens our country's make up by unilaterally legislating the legalization of millions of illegal aliens, while an utterly supine Congress with the sole Constitutional authority to legislate is allowing this to happen. It appears that elections for either party no longer matter to change our national trajectory.
Our Supreme Court today sits as a sort of unelected Politburo deciding that the Constitution means whatever five of them want it to mean based on their whim of the day. What was supposed to be the least dangerous of our co-equal branches of government is now arguably the most dangerous. The left is using our military as a laboratory for insane social experiments, the worst being to allow women into front line combat units, something that can only be accomplished in any number by lowering the physical standards. And that does not even begin to consider the impact on unit cohesion. Space exploration as well as virtually everything to do with space is without doubt of incredible importance to our future. Moreover, it is vital that we continue to develop space defense technology to protect our many satellites upon which modern life is dependant. Space technology is an area where we have still a distinct advantage, yet Obama has killed our nation's space program. Lastly, our national security posture hasn't been this bad since the 1930's.
I think it would be fair to say we are not merely in decline, but rapidly approaching key tests during our descent that will determine our future. It is hard to say which will be the first key test, whether it will come in the form of severe economic stress as the interest rates rise on our outrageous national debt, or whether it will come in the choking of our economy by ever more far reaching regulations by the EPA and FCC, or whether it will come from foreign countries energized by our growing weakness. The only sure lesson of history is that the tests will come.
Our nation has proven resilient in the past, but in the past, we've been much better positioned to respond to challenges. In the past hundred years, we've faced the Depression and come through. But that was at a time when our massive excess industrial capacity sat untapped and we started from a point with no major deficits. We faced WWII and came through. But that was at a time when the other allied nations had strong militaries of their own, not the empty shells that they now have. We faced down the Soviet Union, but that was at a time when our military was at the pinnacle of its strength, not now when Obama has starved our military for funding, going so far as to change our national security posture from being able to fight two simultaneous wars to one. That was a change not based on any threat assessment, but rather a desire to divert the savings to his various welfare programs. And he has likewise overseen the devolution of our nuclear capacity -- something that has maintained the peace in Europe for 75 years -- because of his insane, utopian vision of a world without nuclear weapons. Somebody, please inform the North Koreans, the Iranians, and the other Middle Eastern nations now initiating their own nuclear weapons programs.
Bookworm Room has added her own cogent thoughts to this list above. To paraphrase, in the past, when challenges faced our nation, we had a fundamental love of country to join us. Our immigrants once came for the freedom to seek wealth. Yet today, "our immigrants come for handouts that they then wire to the tyrannies back home." And worst of all:
Our young people once thought that we brought freedom to the world; our young people now believe that we are evil. When a nation's young people think that they and their country are unworthy, the ink is on the suicide pact. And when they've been trained to think of themselves as fragile victims, you can bet that the first drop of blood spilled will seal that pact.
It is hard for me to believe that America will retain a dominant position in the world beyond another decade or so. Perhaps this would not matter if America was intrinsically evil as the left seems to think, or if those who would replace us were benign. The reality is that no nation is strong enough to take our place at the moment, and those who will vie for influence do not have a history of rule by law or democracy. Nor do I believe there is any leader we could elect in 2016 that could restore the Constitutional systems that have allowed us to flourish for much of the past two centuries.
That said, perhaps in response to the key tests and trials foreseeable on our national horizon, things might change. My pessimism is moderated by the reality that history has few straight lines, and great nations have rarely gone gentle into that good night. But my pessimism is made worse by the knowledge that, with key tests and trials come great costs in gold and in blood. The question is not whether America is in decline, but how low we must fall before we even begin to recover, and at what cost?