America’s Decline Is Relative but Real—and Potentially Dangerous

The Rest of the World Is Catching Up, and the Nation's Cluelessness About Its Weaknesses Will Accelerate the Trend

Is the United States in decline? The debate on the subject lacks both content and context. To take the conversation about American decline away from arbitrary and subjective claims, we require an indisputable criterion. And the only criterion that really counts in international relations is comparison: How does the United States stack up as compared to other powers?

By that measure, the United States has been in relative decline since at least the 1960s. Yes, the economic strength of America has grown, and continues to grow, in absolute terms. But its …

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Is California Too Exceptional to Be Part of the U.S.?

We're a Progressive Check on Red-State Power—but We Unbalance the Constitutional System

America is terribly polarized.

And it’s all on account of California.

The trouble is not merely that California itself is such a politically polarized place. Or that California contributes to the many …

Is Our Culture of Empathy Perpetuating Inequality?

Feeling Others’ Pain Lets Us Ignore the Power Structures That Really Divide Us

We desperately need more empathy. At least, that’s what we are told—in political rhetoric, in bestselling popular science books, in international development discourse, in feminist and anti-racist activism. Among current …

Trump Isn’t the First Presidential Power Grabber

American Chief Executives Have Always Tried to Act as They Wish. But Has the Practice Gone Too Far?

King George III imposed taxation on the American colonies without representation. Franklin D. Roosevelt unilaterally exiled Japanese Americans to internment camps. Barack Obama declared his intent to bypass a perpetually …

In the Corridors of Power, Shadow Figures Are Stealing the Spotlight

Cool-Headed Confidants and Cunning Consiglieri Reflect the Best, and Worst, in Our Leaders

Seconds rarely come first. If media coverage is a reliable indicator of public interest, however, seconds in command are currently top of the show, not the postscript but the story …

Why Donald Trump Will Hate the Presidency

The Tycoon in the White House Doesn’t Understand the Difference Between Strength and Power

Donald Trump entered politics as a self-proclaimed “strong leader.” He castigated his supposedly tepid predecessor for lacking necessary strength. Trump, by contrast, would sweep away the establishment and remake America. …