As we approach the Fourth of July, I wonder what the future holds for the nation. What would it be like for Americans to simply get on with the business of being Americans without paranoid fear of terrorists, illegal immigrants and national security; without feeling the need for hyper-patriotism celebrating our place as the rightful and only super power in the world; but with a deep recommitment to the ideals and values we treasure in our founding documents and find so easy to ignore or give away?
We are going through a difficult period of retrenchment that will change some of the fundamentals of our economy and our politics. On the economic side it will not take long for China to surpass us as the world’s largest, most powerful economy, and she already owns a huge portion of our national debt. For that reason alone China cannot allow America to fail, and I imagine that many will find it more than humiliating to discover that we have become so beholden to another. But there is more than a silver lining to this scene. Indeed it can be a golden lining.
Without the burden of world leadership resting on our backs alone, even if that was never more than an egotistical delusion, just think of how we could redirect our political energies. Remembering our Declaration of Independence, we could renew our commitment to building a nation free of oppression whether from unjust government policies or unjust personal actions. We could become rededicated to equality of justice and opportunity for all.
Remembering our Constitution, we could renew an effective balance of power between the branches of government with a special emphasis on the restoration of Congressional powers that have so easily seeped into the executive branch. Perhaps we could begin seeing the Bill of Rights as principles to be lived into with integrity of heart and mind rather than as political bludgeons with which to hammer one another into submission.
With conservation a priority, and easy credit a thing of the past, we could rediscover the joy of living as Americans in a society not consumed by out of control consumerism subsumed under piles of products and services of marginal value or utility. It does not mean becoming a poor nation or anything like that. It means being able to live responsibly into our wealth and abundance with a more equitable sharing of both with all. It could mean a much freer free market economy rather than current system that seems so dangerously close to corporate socialism. It could mean a nation so confident and content with its place in the world that it would have no fear of living and working compatibly with as many others as are also so willing.
The problem with this vision is that it will anger those who can only envision America through the lens of pugilistic patriotism that hankers for a fight and suspects anything less as being un-American. To put it bluntly, that kind of right wing nationalism has been the death knell of many an empire. I’d not like to see that happen to us. I prefer that we live into and up to the highest standards of our founding documents and become a bright, and highly respected, beacon of freedom in the world.