Tom--- Here's my take on the situation....
A nation is not made great by its leader. It’s made great by its people. And that greatness doesn’t come from policies or programs but from values. Great values result in great policies and programs. Poor values bring the opposite.
The 2016 election has disappointed me in two ways. One is the incredibly poor choices we were given with regards to president. Regardless of one’s personal preference, conservative or progressive, there were far better people on both sides of the fence than Trump and Hillary. Some of them ran in the primaries, others never surfaced at all.
The fact that these two are the ones we ended up with leads me to my other, far greater disappointment. Which is that this election provided a crystal clear illustration of the diminished values of the people of this country. As of last night, the “official” image of the US has become one of ignorance, exclusion, egotism, dishonesty, misogyny, bigotry, revenge and greed. In other words, the values that have characterized Donald Trump his entire life. And as a very wise person told me years ago, "people don't change. They just get more of the same."
It speaks volumes about a nation when at least half and probably more of its people see fit to put those values ahead of respect, responsibility, honesty, integrity, knowledge and compassion.
I firmly believe that for several decades the US has been sliding down the slope to “once great” mediocrity. I believe this is inevitable--- it’s happened to every once-great and powerful nation from Egypt to Rome to England and it flies in the face of thousands of years of history to think the US is any different.
This slide will occur regardless of who the leader happens to be. The only effect a leader might have is a slight deceleration or acceleration of the slide. The slide itself and when it begins is, in my opinion, tied directly to the changing values of the people who make up the nation. And the values of an increasing number of people in the US have been changing for the worse--- due to the inevitability of human nature’s response to the changes humans encounter--- for some time now.
We took a giant step down the slope last night as we increasingly align ourselves with diminished values as exemplified by Trump. (Had we elected Hillary we would have taken the same step but perhaps not one quite as big.) PS-- For an interesting perspective on the Hillary aspect read Bob's thread titled "Thomas Sowell."
In the global picture, the geographic point of “greatness” is simply continuing its slow, inevitable creep around the planet in a westerly direction as it always has been. China was doing great things (relatively speaking) as a civilization when Europe was thrashing about in the murk that was the Dark Ages. Today that point is still moving west, heading to Asia once again.
The US had its turn but the old cliché “you can never go back” is based in reality. As much as Trump and all the people who chose him over positive values are desperate to return to 1950, it will never happen. It can’t happen because in today’s world the conditions of 1950 are impossible to recreate. In 1950, the US economy had no competition. Today, our economy, from the airplanes Boeing makes to the cars we drive to the food we eat is tied to the rest of the increasingly competitive world. Breaking that tie, as Trump and his supporters are so eager to do, will not return us to the economy of 1950. It will, however, largely exclude us from the economy of the 21st century.
I remember, as perhaps some of the folks on this forum do, too, the black woman in the crowd in (I think) Chicago who, when it was announced that Obama had won in November, 2008, shouted, “Hallelujah, now I don’t have to worry about my rent or paying for my food because he's going to take care of us,” or words to that effect. I wonder how much her life has changed today?
As I’ve said before with regards to the choices the people of this country make, we are going to get exactly what we have earned and deserve.