CNN cites international economic trends suggesting that by 2016, the United States will no longer be the world's dominant economy.
As the comments show, this kind of story is like an ink blot. America is failing because of globalization. America is failing because of protectionism. America is failing because of immigrants. America is failing because of isolationism. America is failing because of greedy rich people or because of greedy poor people. America is failing because we don't adequately embrace the Democrats' or the Republicans' agenda. America is failing because of too many or too few taxes. Because of the gap between the rich and poor, or because of the priorities of those who obsess over the gap between rich and poor. Because of Obama or Bush or Clinton or Bush the Elder or Reagan or Roosevelt. Because of terrorists or welfare queens or racists or American Idol.
Me? I dunno. I can tell you why I think we're in decline, but what's the difference? I'm just one more guy on the internet convinced he knows what's going on. And while we argue about the cause, you can't help but wonder whether, just through the method we've chosen for discussing and dealing with these problems, we're choosing to decline. Wherever you think our problems come from, we're sure as hell not going to solve them by deciding our fellow citizens are the enemy, and voting between two parties that each promise half-fixes and escalated culture wars.
We obviously can't prevent the end of America forever; all fighting for survival is a stalling tactic. But the end of America and the end of American dominance over the international economy are hardly the same thing, and it does no good to confuse the two. The international community will be infinitely worse off having to cater to China than to the US, but as for us, I can think of far worse fates than taking a big step back from empire.