People around the world who have admired the United States for its economic vigor, its inventiveness, its open society, its great universities, its leadership in world affairs and even its popular culture are now, in many cases, wondering how it all went wrong.
Is the political paralysis in Washington over raising the national debt limit a consequence of a nation in decline, or is decline a result of dysfunctional politics?
Undoubtedly, a combination of the two.
As an American who has lived most of his adult life abroad, I have difficulty in recognizing in the America of today the country in which I grew up. It is an angry country, seemingly unhappy with itself.
The changes that have taken place, transforming a confident and often generous behemoth into a country riven by internal conflict and ideological extremism, have not come about by chance.
The causes are complex but one feature that stands out is the transformation that has taken place in the Republican Party.
Democrats and Republicans always have had a different vision of the kind of country they want America to be. But for a considerable period after World War II, they debated and fought out their differences in a civilized manner and with a degree of mutual respect. (more)