Amid widespread concern among the US public about America's decline, Donald Trump insists he can "make America great again". However, Trump's premise is simply wrong, and the means he proposes actually represent the greatest threat to America.
This can threaten both the USA as a country and the entire international order. The US has a long history of recession anxiety. From the early Puritans who lamented the loss of past virtues to the Founding Fathers who studied Roman history to sustain the new republic, to Charles Dickens's 19th-century observation that America always seemed to be in crisis, this concern has persisted.
Despite this fascination with a mythical golden age, the United States never had the power that many imagine. Even with abundant resources, America often struggles to achieve its goals. Moments like the Suez Crisis of 1956, when the US failed to prevent Soviet repression in Hungary, serve as reminders that the world has always been complex and turbulent.
Even then, there were more powerful and influential countries that shared power on the global stage. Yet the idea of decline resonates deeply in American politics, serving as a breeding ground for political partisanship. Sometimes this concern leads to harmful protectionist policies or, conversely, to overreach, such as the war in Iraq.
When discussing geopolitics, it is important to distinguish between absolute and relative decline. Relatively speaking, America has been in decline since the end of World War II, no longer accounting for half of the global economy or holding a monopoly on nuclear weapons.
Despite this, America remains the most powerful country in the world and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. China's rise is often cited as evidence of America's decline, but these are not necessarily connected to each other.
Although there has been a shift in the power dynamic, with China increasingly, the US still retains significant advantages. These include geographic isolation, relative energy independence, dollar dominance, demographic stability, technological strength, and soft power.
There is still a huge difference between the USA and China or Russia, but it must be admitted that this difference has never been smaller in the last 100 years. If the US succumbs to hysteria over China's rise or comes to terms with its own decline, it could squander these advantages.
Rejecting valuable cards like strong alliances and influence in international institutions would be a serious mistake. After only one year, the absence of the USA from such alliances and international institutions would cause irreparable damage.
Moreover, America has more reason to fear the rise of populist nationalism at home than the rise of China. Policies such as withdrawing support for Ukraine or leaving NATO would harm American soft power. It would irreversibly lose its influence on Europe, which would further deepen the tensions between the EU and the USA, which could have frightening consequences.
If Trump wins the presidential election, this year could be a turning point for America's power.
Ultimately, while America's external power may remain dominant, it may lose its internal strength and appeal to others. Moreover, as American democracy becomes increasingly polarized and fragile, such developments could hasten America's decline.
The longevity of the Roman Empire, despite having lost its republican form of government, serves as a warning. Similarly, the viability of American democracy depends on its ability to overcome internal challenges and divisions within its society.
Donald Trump may have gone too far to the right with his statements, but Biden should also think about his actions. The erosion of democratic norms, growing distrust of institutions, and the rise of extremism represent a significant threat to the stability of America today.
The events of January 6, 2021, when insurgents stormed the US Capitol, highlighted the fragility of American democracy. If such incidents become more frequent, or if democratic institutions continue to be undermined, America's decline could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The next election is one of the most important, both sides have their strengths and weaknesses, but Trump's statements are not only worrying, they are also frightening. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep-seated inequalities and vulnerabilities within American society.
The disproportionate impact of the virus on marginalized communities, along with inadequate health infrastructure and social safety nets, has highlighted the systemic failures undermining America's resilience. In addition to domestic challenges, America faces pressing global issues such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and geopolitical instability.
Addressing these issues requires international cooperation and leadership, both of which are undermined by America's internal divisions and retreat from global engagement. To counter the forces of decline, Americans must reaffirm their commitment to democratic principles, strengthen institutions, bridge political divides, and reengage with the world.
This will require bold leadership, bipartisan cooperation, and a renewed sense of national purpose. It is necessary for both sides to put national interests first, but of course it should be a coordinated plan of both sides.
A global superpower like the USA needs a coordinated attitude when it comes to the state. Discussions may be about some less important issues, but the national direction should be clear and harmonized. Ultimately, the question of America's decline is not predetermined.
It depends on the choices Americans make today and in the years to come. By confronting domestic challenges, embracing diversity, and upholding democratic values, America can chart a course toward renewal and continued leadership on the global stage.