About 100 years ago, the United States began to take center stage in world affairs. Europe had destroyed itself and was gearing up to do it again. This was the end of the first era of globalization that had the British Empire at its heart. You can draw a lot of parallels, but there are, of course, many differences. For one, the British Empire decayed largely from external pressure.
The most remarkable feature of American politics at present isn’t so much the polarization, but the intellectual bankruptcy of the bases of both political parties. The Republican base has turned into a cult of personality; the Democratic base has turned into a cult of orthodoxy.
Things that used to be the trademarks of the conservative movement such as free trade and small government are close to meaningless in the current Republican party, and subject to change on the whim of the President. Even the post-war Hawkishness (including the anti-Soviet flavor) of the Republican party is lost.
Likewise, liberalism has no meaning anymore. Concepts like due process are discarded if they conflict with the prevailing orthodoxy. While the liberal left at one time distinguished itself on the basis of its deference to science, like all orthodoxies, inconvenient truths cannot survive the its inquisitions. Meanwhile, what science is part of the the orthodoxy is used to demand maximal outcomes in accordance with the orthodoxy instead of a solution.
The result is that each side gets very narrow results according to its immediate priorities, but only in the short term. Nothing long-term gets accomplished.
A vicious cycle of identity conflict has also arisen. Many whites are acting like a minority. Diagnosing the blame is irrelevant. This is going to get worse.
So, the American century looks set to end with the proverbial whimper with a farcical government of incompetence being manipulated by the lilliputian Russians while the Chinese advance.
The military believes it will lose in a conflict with China, according to its wargaming. We have failed to strengthen our alliances in the Pacific, and will ultimately lose our influence there, whether you want to call it “hegemony” or underwriting globalization. Will we fight for it?
In the west, Europe already understands that we are waning. Iran is challenging us in the Middle East.
There is no problem that a new President can fix, not that we will see a new one in 2021. That is not probable. Even if we did, the storm of scandal and obstruction that would follow would prevent any meaningful change. The United States will be more unequal in 2025 regardless of who is President. It will have done nothing meaningful about the environment in 2025, regardless of who is President. The dollar will be a less widely used currency in 2025, regardless of who is President. Adults will be deeper in student loan debt in 2025, regardless of who is President. Less people will have affordable medical care. And so on.