One hundred years ago, in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany “to make the world safe for democracy.” Pax Americana, the relative peace and stability which has lasted since the end of WWII, is due to the overwhelming economic and military strength of the United States.
The Chinese population at 1.3 billion is four times as large as the U.S. population. Its economy is growing much faster than ours and will surpass ours in 10 or 15 years. There is little, if anything, the U.S. can do to prevent this from happening.
China is a non-free, non-democratic, totalitarian state. We hope that it will remain peaceful towards the U.S. as its economic strength, and eventually also its military strength, surpasses our own, but it would be risky to assume this for sure.
What then should we do to prepare for the day when we are no longer the dominant power on earth? In my opinion, our best preparation for this inevitable day is to make democracy as strong as possible around the world.
In this respect, look at the latest report from Freedom House which measures the state of freedom around the world on an annual basis.
- In the past 30 years the percentage of free countries has increased from 34% to 45% and the percentage of non-free countries has declined from 32% to 25%.
- In the past 10 years, the number of free countries has declined from 47% to 45% while the number of non-free countries has increased from 23% to 25%. In other words democratic progress has been stagnant for the past ten years.
Conclusion. Democracies rarely go to war against one another. Other democratic countries are our best friends and so we want more of them. But there is nothing simple or obvious in figuring out how to accomplish this.
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My website, “It Does Not Add Up,” is primarily concerned with the very serious fiscal and economic problems faced by the U.S. Occasionally I write about other critical issues such as how the U.S. should respond to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Or what can be done to address the K-12 academic achievement gap between kids from low income families and those from middle class families (an issue I am personally involved in).
Today I will try to express what I think is right about our country and why I am so thankful to be an American:
- America is the strongest, wealthiest and one of the freest countries on earth.
- We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who came before us and have built such a wonderful country for us to live in.
- We can vigorously debate our differences of opinion about how to move forward.
- There is enormous energy, enthusiasm and participation in constantly striving to make the U.S. a freer, more just and more prosperous nation.
- We resolve our differences peacefully through a democratic political process – one person, one vote.
- We try to give everyone an equal opportunity to get ahead.
- We have a vast safety net to take care of the less fortunate members of society and those who fall through the cracks.
- We try especially hard to lift up a whole class of people who have historically been discriminated against. Slowly but surely progress is being made on this difficult task.
- On the whole we accept our responsibility, as a strong and prosperous nation, to provide leadership in maintaining peace and stability around the world.
As you can see, I am an optimist. We do have big problems but we’re also doing many things right. America will continue to flourish in the future because we will successfully meet our many challenges. This won’t happen automatically or necessarily easily but rather because so many capable and dedicated people are working so hard to achieve it. The political process will ultimately respond to the true will of the people.