Der Spiegel from an incredible article, which is mostly correct (but with the usual errors in all the PC places)
Decline is also failure of leadership, which insinuates itself into the population, and then is followed by that population’s loss of hope.
Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation
By SPIEGEL ONLINE Staff
The United States is frittering away its role as a model for the rest of the world. The political system is plagued by an absurd level of hatred, the economy is stagnating and the infrastructure is falling into a miserable state of disrepair. On this election eve, many Americans are losing faith in their country’s future.
The monumental National Mall in Washington, DC, 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) long and around 1,586 feet wide at its broadest point, is a place that showcases the United States of America is in its full glory as a world power. A walk along the magnificent swath of green space, between the white dome of the Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial, a temple erected to honor former president Abraham Lincoln, at its western end, leads past men in bronze and stone, memorials for soldiers and conquerors, and the nearby White House. It’s a walk that still creates an imperial impression today.
The museums, and buildings which surround the mall are the byproduct of inventors, businessmen and financiers, and monuments to success, failure and shame, der Spiegel. The Smithsonian somehow fails the ‘imperial’ test.
The Mall is lined with museums and landscaped gardens, in which America is on display as the kind of civil empire that promotes the arts and sciences. There are historic sites, and there are the famous steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King once spoke of his dream, and of the dreams of a country to be a historic force, one that would serve the wellbeing of all of mankind. Put differently, the National Mall is an open-air museum for an America that, in 2012, is mostly a pleasant memory.
After a brilliant century and a terrible decade, the United States, in this important election year, has reached a point in its history when the obvious can no longer be denied: The reality of life in America so greatly contradicts the claim — albeit one that has always been exaggerated — to be the “greatest nation on earth,” that even the most ardent patriots must be overcome with doubt.
This realization became only too apparent during and after Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm that ravaged America’s East Coast last week, its effects made all the more devastating by the fact that its winds were whipping across an already weakened country. The infrastructure in New York, New Jersey and New England was already in trouble long before the storm made landfall near Atlantic City. The power lines in Brooklyn and Queens, on Long Island and in New Jersey, in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, are not underground, but are still installed along a fragile and confusing above-ground network supported by utility poles, the way they are in developing countries.
No System to Protect Against Storm Surges
Although parts of New York City, especially the island of Manhattan, are only a few meters above sea level, the city still has no extensive system to protect itself against storm surges, despite the fact that the sea level has been rising for years and the number of storms is increasing. In the case of Sandy, the weather forecasts were relatively reliable three or four days prior to its arrival, so that the time could have been used to at least make improvised preparations, which did not happen. The only effective walls of sandbags that were built in the city on a larger scale did not appear around power plants, hospitals or tunnel entrances, but around the skyscraper of the prescient investment bank Goldman Sachs.
While sea levels have risen (if at all) by a CM or less, and storms are actually LESS FREQUENT, though more ‘targeted’, congrats to Goldman Sachs. There is no doubt that a storm THE SIZE OF THE MOST OF EUROPE, should have caused federal authorities to ready generators, MRE’s, earth moving equipment, tentage, trailers from Katrina, state authorities to open national guard armories for action DAYS BEFORE, warehousing water, and transport which could get through.
Towns, well with our system placing all money and power in the federal govt, what could TOWNS who would have KNOWN WHAT TO DO for their own people and infrastructure, do?
As we read today that people in Staten Island, Long Island and NJ will not be able to vote at their known polling places because there is no power (but are told they can email in their ballots ? without power? good thinking, monors), how can we conclude anything but HUGE FAILURE?
Large parts of America’s biggest city and millions of people along the East Coast could now be forced to survive for days, possibly even weeks, without electricity, water and heat. Many of the backup generators intended for such emergencies didn’t work, so that large hospitals had to be evacuated. On the one hand, these consequences of the storm point to the uncontrollability of nature. On the other hand, they are signs that America is no longer the great, robust global power it once was.
Europeans who make such claims have always been accused of anti-Americanism. But now Americans themselves are joining the chorus of those declaring the country’s decline. “I had to catch a train in Washington last week,”New York Timescolumnist Thomas Friedman, whose columns are read worldwide, wrote last April. “The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you’d have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City. When I got back to Union Station, the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Maybe you’ve gotten used to all this and have stopped noticing. I haven’t. Our country needs a renewal.”
Such everyday observations are coalescing into a new, tarnished image of America.
The vital conclusion about why is missing.
What is the American Mission?
I can name Israel’s mission (to preserve Judaism, and provide a safe haven for the Jewish people).
I can name a few others, but notably not in Europe. Not in Asia.
We were a place in which the mission was to spread the word that what comes out of your mind and the effort of your hands MATTERS in the changing of reality and the world. That any man’s son can be the equal of any man’s son.
The vote today will tell those of us who still have that mission in their hearts if that is perceived by the majority of people in the counties which tip the votes in the states that matter. But if this is a close race as it seems to be, then the mission of America is already lost, and we can only hope that a President Romney will, by providing an opening to a better economic future, allow that spark to reignite in enough hearts.
Enough hearts that in the coming few years, we can feel that our grandchildren will enjoy a better life than we do.
Enough hearts that the vast majority will realize that economic justice, and social justice is a product of the American Mission
It will easy to collapse into fatalistic ennui if Obama is reelected.
But if even Mrs. Epa is looking for someplace else with a mission, America is in deep danger. All it will take is a few of our children sharing the desire to find that place. It speaks to DECLINE, and feeling that all there is here is to play out the string.
Is that what we want to leave for our grandchildren?