According to a new poll by The Hill newspaper, 69 percent of Americans now believe the USA is in “decline.” In addition, a whopping 83 percent indicate they are worried about America’s future.
Very sobering. So what's going on?
If you study history, you know that America was built on self-reliance and personal achievement. In the early years of the Republic, the federal and state governments pretty much stayed out of the way as folks built businesses and communities. There were absolutely no public safety nets. If you failed, it was up to you to survive.
Because of that circumstance, the citizens of America became strong. The motto "Don't Tread On Me" was absolutely appropriate. Hardship was accepted as a part of life. Self-sacrifice for the good of others was the order of the day. Cowardice and narcissism were condemned everywhere.
And so the world's greatest and strongest country was built. Not by pinheaded bureaucrats, but by the blood and sacrifice of hardworking folks. Each generation had strong role models to follow. There were rules of conduct, and there was a dominant Judeo-Christian signpost. As Superman well knew, it was "truth, justice and the American way."
But things have changed.
The collapse of tradition began in the late 1960s when the Vietnam War raged. For the first time, Americans could see the horrors of combat in their living rooms. And that war was largely undefined, especially for younger people. What the heck was the USA doing in Southeast Asia? Why were young men being drafted into a conflict few understood? In order to win any war, you need dynamic leadership. President Lyndon Johnson failed to provide it.
Out went the baby with the bath water. In came drugs, free love and a suspicion of authority. No longer was the United States a noble nation in the eyes of many of its own citizens who began to see their country as an oppressor.
America became a divided nation. Traditions eroded quickly, as many people began doing their "own thing." No longer was there a widely accepted code of conduct.
Self-reliance remained the key to success in our capitalistic system, but for those who declined to compete, the federal government stepped in to lend support. As the family structure collapsed, entitlements became more common, as children and single mothers had to be supported. The vexing issues of racial inequality and persistent poverty brought about ultra-expensive social engineering. Liberal Americans looked to the Western European model of cradle-to-grave support as a panacea for "income inequality." The view that Washington has a moral obligation to provide a decent lifestyle for everyone took root.
That philosophy, currently embraced by President Obama, has led to massive debt, which, in turn, has created chaos in the private marketplace. In this world, a strong economic base is the foundation of power. America has lost that base.
And so, once again, the folks are right. The United States is in decline. And only we the people can reverse that. We have to depend on ourselves.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show ''The O'Reilly Factor.'' Visit his website at www.billoreilly.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/billoreilly.