It’s difficult to answer the question “is the US worth saving?” with a definitive and enthusiastic “yes!” at the moment. The United States has achieved greater wealth than any other country, but has failed to use it effectively for the benefit of its people. Sky high higher education costs, tens of millions of uninsured or under-insured in spite of paying more than any other country for healthcare, a more than two trillion dollar infrastructure backlog… Spain gets high-speed rail before a single American state or region does.
Winston Churchill allegedly said something along the lines of “America always does the right thing, after it’s tried everything else.” If he didn’t say it, he should have. I, for one, am tired of enduring all the wrong things while waiting for the United States to get around to finally doing the right thing. My wife and I spent 7 of the last 8 years in Canada, and will be returning — hopefully for good — next month. The election of Donald Trump and now the humanitarian mess he’s created along the border leave me almost completely disillusioned. Even if the US reversed course tomorrow and started heading in the right direction, it never should have gotten this far.
Though I historically have not been a huge fan of states rights, the fact that cities and states are increasingly acting more aggressively on their own on some issues gives me a degree of hope. But increasing state independence in response to federal ineptitude and weakness may actually lead to the breakup of the country rather than its salvation.
As for Canada and Europe, it’s safe to say the United States is no longer interested in cooperation or mutual defense. NATO’s days are probably numbered. Likewise, global alliances and cooperation generally appear to be off the table — a fact that will ultimately leave the United States incredibly isolated and weak even if it survives. If it comes back to the table in the future it will be greeted with suspicion and will have to humble itself to be taken seriously. In other words, no more American exceptionalism. No more “leader of the free world.” America will have to play the role of an equal partner. I’m not sure even Trump supporters will want America to survive if letting go of the myth that America is number one in all things is the price that must be paid for readmission into the community of nations. Of course, that myth’s hold on Americans is going to be considerably looser in the future even if America survives.