With the rise of China, Americans’ penchant to resort to triumphalist rhetoric about the United States is becoming ever stronger. Triumphalism serves as an opioid for the Washington establishment. It can breathe easier if the—once upon a time justified—claims about the United States’ economic superiority are endlessly repeated. Such recitations have traditionally also served as an opioid for the masses. Things might not be so great for oneself, but at least “we as a nation are still number one.”
Writing in The Globalist, Rob Atkinson explains why for most of American history, U.S. elites had good reason to deny that the country's military and economic power is waning. That is no longer the case.
Yet this recent trend toward decline is troubling, to say the least. But it does not have to be the story of the United States’ future. The Washington establishment needs to stop belittling the economic realists who look at the actual decline in our nation’s economic performance with open eyes. And the members of our establishment most certainly need to let go of their smug assumption that the status quo will suffice.