What are the biggest domestic problems the United States faces today? If you guys have any thoughts on this I’d be interesting in hearing your answers. I have three that come to mind, and all of them are significant enough that they pose an existential threat to the nation if we don’t solve them. Here they are:
- White Americans losing their majority status.
- Repudiation of win-at-all-costs partisanship and restoring respect for democratic system and ability to compromise
- Decreasing gap between the wealthy and everyone else
I’ll say a few words about each, including possible ways to solve them
White Americans Losing Their Majority Status
In my view this basically generates fear and resentment. Here’s a tweet storm that explains this in a little more detail.
Definitely fits with my theory of Trump support: The gay marriage defeat, plus the sense that Hispanic votes were the key to Obama’s 2012 victory, plus the beginnings of Hispanic/Asian diffusion into the Midwest, made many conservative white folks freak out. https://t.co/19x3hN51y1
— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) April 24, 2018
In my view, if we don’t find a way to help large numbers of white Americans transition from having a majority status to a minority one, our country is at risk. For example, I believe that choosing a demagogic authoritarian like Donald Trump is an expression of fear and resentment from losing majority status–from losing power. It behooves all Americans to find a way, if possible, to help white Americans constructively deal with this fear and anxiety–in order to prevent it from manifesting in destructive ways.
I’m not sure what the answers are, but I do have a few ideas. However, going over them here is beyond the scope of the post. I will say that it’s important to recognize the problem (if it is a crucial one). It’s also important not to simply label the problem as “racism.” Nor is it helpful to ridicule the people who feel this fear and anxiety.
Repudiate Win-at-all-costs Politics
Here, I’m thinking of a politics that doesn’t respect and accept outcomes based on legitimate democratic processes, or doesn’t accept that central role that compromise plays in our system. Essentially, it’s a politics that puts party far above the country. This must be resoundingly rejected by Americans. How do we do this? In short, the Republicans need to get wiped out at the polls. What this will do will chasten the party–it will cleanse the party from this type of approach–an approach that has also included tolerance for racism, white nationalism, sexism, corruption, lying and authoritarianism. Voters have to speak and reject all of this, and they can do this by wiping out Republicans in 2018.
If this occurs–if Republicans return to a healthier form of politics–then the system can work. Now, it’s important to note that this is little to do with conservative policies. Those policies aren’t the problem in my view. The problem is an approach that doesn’t respect the rules of the game, that rejects compromise, and accepts things like authoritarianism and white nationalism. If we don’t rid ourselves of those things from the mainstream, our system of government will continue to be dysfunctional and ideas that are antithetical to our core values will grow and even flourish, creating an existential threat to the nation.
We need massive reform that involves shrinking the gap between the wealthy and everyone else. This involves economic and political power. We need a massive reforms that address this, an ushering in of a Progressive Era, 2.0. If the gap keeps widening, we’re at risk of falling a part. There are a lot of different ideas to address this, but I won’t go into now.
4 thoughts on “The Three Problems America Needs to Overcome in Order to Survive as a Nation”
What do you mean “surviving as a nation”?
I most interested in number 3 (actually your second number 1). This problem is way, way beyond “if this gap keeps widening, we’re at risk of falling apart”. The gap is beyond too wide already. However, imo, this is more of a world problem, than a national problem. Solving this only within our borders may have more dire results if not attacking this more globally.
I also, completely agree with number 2. I’m not sure why I feel like this, but this problem seem to grow with the Obama administration. Am I completely wrong?
I have another issue, but will write about that later if I feel up to it.
Nations, particularly liberal democracies, cease to exist as a nation in at least two ways: 1) they can be taken over by an authoritarian (what has happened in South America and in Europe); 2) revolution creating a failed state or autocracy.
Another possible scenario is that the government goes bankrupt.
Do you guys think I’m exaggerating or being slightly over-dramatic by suggesting this? Do you feel like what I’m saying is far-fetched? I’d really like to get some feedback on this, if you guys don’t mind.
I agree. I narrowed the focus to domestic problems to exclude things like climate change, nuclear arms proliferation, etc.–not to say that solutions shouldn’t account for the global economy.
No, I don’t think you are–or at least that’s my sense. I’m not sure we’re thinking about this issue in the same way, but, for me, the GOP is the main problem. Several others have tracked the way the GOP have progressively gotten worse over time, with regard to putting party over the country.
I know I limited this to domestic issues, but I believe that Russia is exploiting and exacerbating all three problems. So addressing each problem is also a national security matter.
The article below touches on this briefly, although it mostly focuses on corruption in European countries, and doesn’t really mention Russia very much. However, from what I understand various Russian entities funnel a lot of money via money laundering, which has a corrupting influence–one that can bring down a democracy. I think the article gives you a sense of that.
I should note that even if Russia (or other countries) are corrupting individuals and institutions in our country, the influence of money in politics, plus the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, can also have a corrupting influence that can destroy our democracy as well.
Relating to #1
The man in this disturbing video says, “You’re not going to change us. The world is not going to change the United States of America.” I’m hoping the man is either intoxicated or mentally ill, versus being sober and of sound mind.
I think Wilson is correct, and the word “insecure” stands out for me. Here’s another thing in the thread that resonated with me:
Where I disagree with Wilson is the level of scorn and contempt he heaps upon them. I understand those feelings, but those feelings will only make matters worse. I think Trump supporters are insecure, afraid and that can lead to anger–anger that a demagogue like Trump can whip up and direct at vulnerable groups like immigrants, Muslims, and minorities. The contempt for the way Trump supporters feel isn’t going to dissipate–just the opposite. We’ve got to find a way to help them deal with those feelings in a therapeutic and healing way.