I thought this column by Thomas Friedman was admirably simple, and helpful in thinking about America’s future. (here) He points out that while many people see China ascendant and the US on the downhill side, China has its own problems–an authoritarian government that censors the Internet and jails its dissidents. (He didn’t mention China’s demographic future, but that’s a big worry too.) Meanwhile, America still is a wide open society that loves imagination and entrepreneurship. He thinks that’s the best quality to bring to the economy of the 21st century.
His worry, which I share, is that we may be losing our ability to govern ourselves well–by which he means, the ability to find workable solutions to basic problems like health care and global warming. Politically, we seem to be stuck. That’s why the promise of Barack Obama was so exciting, and his failure would be so depressing. Because if he can’t move things forward under current conditions, who can? Really, who? And if we as a country can’t find answers to basic issues, what’s our future?