Since 1776 America has been fueled and guided by the feeling that things could be, and are probably going to be, better. America was rich compared to other human populations; there were new challenges to conquer, new thoughts to nurture, and new resources to fuel it all. Prosperity grew from the feeling that America was a better place, and its governing institutions grew out of the feeling that checks on pure individual selfishness would produce a better America for everyone involved in the long term.
I sense this feeling changing. I feel we are no longer standing at the edge of a wild new continent full of promise and individual freedom, I feel like we’re in an overcrowded lifeboat in turbulent waters, fighting to stay on board. I feel people are starting to anticipate a future America of desperation, fear and suspicion.
Citizens are fragmenting into tighter, special-advocacy groups greedily attempting to grab all of America’s resources and treasures for their own group. Any kind of call for shared sacrifice or cooperation with other groups is seen as a threat and harshly resisted. Resources that are already getting scarce will be rapidly exhausted as everybody tries to grab the last precious bits.
American governing bodies have become incoherent because coherent government requires social trust which are governing bodies no longer have. Our governing bodies now seem to have a predominant number of freeloaders, brigands and cheats in control. The divisiveness between special advocacy groups caused by the way we are governed is changing what was called “The American Spirit” into the “The American Nightmare.”
This is a dark thought, but one to keep an eye on. Feelings are more dangerous than ideas, because they aren’t susceptible to rational evaluation. They grow quietly, spreading underground, and erupt suddenly, all over the place. They can take hold quickly and run out of control (‘FIRE!’) and by their nature tend to be self-fueling.