Countries are at their most dangerous when their empires are in decline. That’s when authoritarian leaders gain power, with rhetoric about the rest of the world not taking them seriously anymore. We are seeing the first sign of this alarming development now, with Trump fantasizing that the world is “laughing at us,” and that we have to assert our sovereignty. As US global influence diminishes, I fear that we are in for a sickening transformation of our nation into a a petty, belligerent, whiny country constantly looking for ways to assert its power for the sake of its own ego.
Of course, this concern with people not taking our country seriously is an obvious projection by Trump of his personal insecurities and resentment over the way he’s been ridiculed and, until election night, not really taken seriously as a political leader.
We now have a dangerous confluence of forces:
- Donald Trump’s personal craving for respect and praise
- Declining US world dominance
- The fear of members of longstanding dominant groups – i.e., straight white Christian men – that they are losing power in a changing world.
Without a major course correction, these simpatico forces will inexorably drive us into a future where wealth and opportunity are further concentrated into a minority ruling oligarchy, one that relies on military aggression rather than economic engagement to stay relevant, with the mocking echoes of a lost democracy acting as a fig leaf.
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