I asked this question during a study group for the sake of gathering insight on where we stand as far as our collective vision. Unfortunately, I saw very little of the optimism that once described our nation. Instead, I kept hearing words such as "collapse", "shutdown", and "powerlessness."
I beg to differ. I think that the U.S. has a history of proving itself quite capable of coming back from many downfalls. In an age where American pride is unfairly deemed as "arrogance", what is your vision for of the US for the near future?
As technology continues to expand its reach as an industry and as a ubiquitous reality (with blue tooth being put into in tooth brushes and other non-tech items), the US could find itself in a position of economic leadership with a strong hold on a growing sector.
If we can manage to train more US citizens with tech expertise - entirely possible - then maybe we can take a lead on something that will continue to grow.
As I seem to have started a "downward spiral" of negativity in this thread, I will offer an alternate, more positive, glimpse into the next five years.
If any nation can conquer the problems facing it, it is the United States. We do have significant hurdles to overcome, but one of the backbones of our nation is innovation. I truly believe that if the government becomes more financially responsible, that the path to financial recovery is possible. Look at what Apple has done in the past 5 years. Technology will continue to shape the course of our planet, and so long as the United States stays on the leading edge of innovation I think there is a chance that we will overcome our difficulties and emerge even stronger than before.
The downfall that we are experiencing is a type of downfall that I don't think the United States will be able to recover from. The gap between the rich and poor continues to widen. This country has reached its limit with corporate and federal debt. Furthermore, there is growing political disdain towards certain groups, and the politicians who hope to lead this country are very mean-spirited and disrespectful towards their opponents and towards certain groups that they would be governing over. I don't think many politcians are showing that they truly care about the everyday citizens of this country, for that reason, things will continue to collapse.
There will absolutely be a new President (possibly Romney running for a second term?) and I hope that the economy will have improved and that our troops are totally removed from Afghanistan and Iraq, with no new wars to take more lives. Sadly, I don't expect much of this to come true. The U.S.'s desire to be the world's self-appointed policeman will send our troops to new lands, and inflation will only continue until controls are put in place to reduce our rampant spending.
I would really like to see the words "cooperation" and "compromise" become much more important as ideas put into action among people. I think there are exciting possibilities and potential benefits from expanding recognition of the rights and values of different groups and viewpoints. HOWEVER, the word "different" does not carry or imply "wrong" in any way - and too many groups or sub-groups seem to have decided to overlook that point.
I blame a great deal of the disaffectation and dysfunction of the current political system in our nation on the divisive outlook that seems to have taken over. Politicians have seemingly forgotten that the Constitution was the result of The Great Compromise and that many other compromises were made along the way.
We all need to step back from saying, "My belief is the right one on this issue and I'm not going to consider even talking about changing any part of that belief, regardless of how much damage to other concerns or people occurs as a result of that conflict that I'm unwilling to attempt to resolve."
I think that the last forty years or so have introduced a new ethos of selfishness into American society. It was the basis for modern conservatism- the idea that we don't have any responsibility to each other, and that shared sacrifice was unnecessary. This is largely a reaction to the civic nationalism that characterized American liberalism, and it pervades almost every aspect of American life. I am not optimistic that, barring some catastrophe that we can recover this spirit without becoming a more coercive, and less open society. I think that we are becoming more atomized and less responsible to each other, and I don't see this trend reversing, sadly.
In earlier times people felt that they were Americans. Now, there are many who just live in America, assuming no responsibility as citizens (if they are citizens), seeking only what they can get and wanting to be taken care of. When 49% of the population does not pay taxes and the other 51% supports, or attempts to support the nation, there is a definite problem. (Statistics reported on news channels.)
I don't know what will happen, but I hope that we will start to move towards more personal responsibility and frugality. I think that we will come to understand that we simply can't get something (lots of government benefits) for nothing (low taxes). I also think that we'll realize that we have become too undisciplined in our personal financial lives. I think we'll start to remember that our grandparents would actually wait to buy things until they could afford them.
I think inflation will be a big problem for the United States in the next five years. Until our government can control spending we are at the mercy of those who continue to purchase our debt. Our saving grace, at the moment, is that those countries would be equally hurt if our system crashed so there is somewhat of a symbiotic relationship there.
I share your optimism, but am also concerned about how we would handle a threat to our way of life. I think the character of our nation will be tested in the next five years, and we will emerge stronger for it or be relegated to a secondary status in world affairs.