How America became a lost, exhausted superpower

And how it may well get much, much worse

A faded, torn American flag.
(Image credit: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

What does it feel like to live through an era of precipitous national decline? I suspect it feels quite a lot like life in the United States in 2017.

I don't just mean the relative decline that many analysts have begun to measure and that nearly everyone expects to accelerate over the coming decades. This relative decline compares America to countries in the developing world like China and India with vastly larger populations, where economic growth is likely to continue outstripping ours by such an extent that their economies will eventually surpass ours in absolute size. But such relative decline is perfectly compatible with continued growth and rising living standards within the U.S. Even as China grows larger than us, life at home could still continue on much as it has for decades, with ordinary Americans sensing little to no change in their quality of life.

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