Moving from Democracy to Socialism, especially with regard to the socialized healthcare. In this case, the poorest of the poor will continue to get stepped on with no hope whatsoever of finally "making it" or getting the attention they need medically, while the rich hire private doctors or fly to countries where they can afford to pay for specialized care.
Once again, it seems, mrsmonica and I are on the same page. I could not agree more strongly with the case she has made effectively and concisely. I had not heard the expression "school to prison pipeline," and now that I have, I find it as depressing as it truly is. All that I would add to the discussion is that the failure of public education threatens not only our economic strength, but also the survival of American democracy. We can't practice what we don't understand, and we won't preserve what we don't respect and value.
Maybe teachers across the country should start Twittering the Constitution and text messaging the Bill of Rights. And while we're at it, considering the state of politics in the age of media, maybe we should post a review of propaganda techniques on Facebook and MySpace.
The failure of the educational system in grades 6-12 to engage, motivate, and retain students is the single greatest threat to American economic dominance, which has already slipped significantly. Almost one-third of urban high school students leave without graduating. This hemorrhage of human capital feeds the criminal, drug, and underground black market economy and fills the jails and prisons. The dropout situation is sometimes called the “school to prison pipeline.” Until systemic reform occurs inside the American public middle and high schools, the United States can count on losing what is left of its economic primacy.
America has changed a lot since the beginning. As has been noted, our Founding Fathers put a great deal of their energy into forming a country that had as limited a central government as possible to do what the states could not do on their own. Although changing times have led to the growth of the federal government, and I think this is the largest threat to the American "empire." (I don't think of Empire in the sense of the "British Empire," but rather in the sense of the "American Experiment."
The largest problem I experience with the size of the federal government is that it seems to take away responsibility for local government and initiative and make citizens more passive either because they grow increasingly depend on in, or they increasingly despair of having enough influence to change any of the fed's policies. Both of these lead to what I fear is the greatest threat facing us: lack of citizen involvement in their government. The Federal Government and the Corporate America will step in and grab up all the power we allow them to --- and that will be the end of the Empire/Experiment.
I feel that the biggest threat to the "American Empire" is the very idea that America should be an empire. In many ways we have become that, largely through the efforts of economic interests which manipulate the government (and the population, let alone the legislators) to further this idea, and it seems to have cost us the corrosion of our liberties and the loss of the world's respect. The concept of an empire is antithetical to everything the United States of America was intended to represent to the human race as a whole. While we have never quite come to be what our ideals demand, the corporate empire is the farthest we have so far strayed.
Our Constitution set up a government which was as close to no government as the "Founding Fathers" could design which was still enough government to work at all. We have hammered out a lot of the details of how to make it work, and have made many compromises between a government with too much power and one with too little. To effectively run an empire we would have to dictate too much not only to our own populace but to that of other countries. The idea, if I understand correctly, was to give the world an example of a "new order" of personal freedom and responsibility both, not the same old repeated "new" order of empire that's been handed down from Babylon to Rome to the Nazis. The biggest threat to what America stands for is the creation of the modern corporate American Empire.
There can be many approaches to this question and I think you will need to be prepared for this question to be moved into a discussion realm. You will also have to assess different answers in what you think is an accurate one.
I think the rise of fundamentalism, in all of its forms, might be the largest threat to American hopes of empire. American empire is rooted in the idea of economic and material growth. It is not really ideological in terms of "democracy" vs. "communism," as it used to be during the Cold War, or "freedom" vs. "fascism" as it was during WWII. The new conception of American empire is rooted in cosmopolitan growth and material acquisition. The commercialism and images of social advancement through wealth, deregulation, business growth, and attempting to own the means of production (to borrow a Marxist bromide) are essential parts of American cultural capital. This is only enhanced through the growth and proliferation of information technology. I am not certain if terms of "good" or "bad" apply here, for I believe that this is the reality of the American empire and it is what it is. Fundamentalism provides the largest obstacle to the advancement of this vision. Whether it is religious, social, dogmatic orthodoxy, the fundamentalist singular conception of the good is the primary challenge to the American empire and its growth. For years, this orthodoxy had been most prominently targeted as being present in the Middle East region of the world. The conception of fundamentalist Islam has been portrayed as the largest and most looming threat to American empire. However, I am not sure that this is the only form of fundamentalism present. Governmental fundamentalism, such as what is being seen in China, can serve as a bigger and more dangerous threat. Here we see a singular notion of the good (Chinese government and its autocratic ways) challenging the growth of American empire. It challenges American empire by seeking to replace it with its own version of empire. A Chinese consortium can offer competition with American industry in many venues and has the capital to be able to launch a significant challenge because there is only one conception of the good: Governmental control. While it is easy to take shots at American empire, a vision of the world under a Chinese empire might be fodder for reflection. In this case, American empire is threatened by a challenging and powerful singular notion of the good in the form of the Chinese government.
I entirely agree with Post #3.
In business management they say that the biggest threat to the number one company in any industry is their tendency to act like number one. Unfortunately companies as well as countries that become big and strong tend to give up the ways that made them big and strong and become too much preoccupied with reaping the fruits of the past achievements.
I hope that the phrase "American Empire" is not the choice of an average American today. Because attitude reflected by this phrase reflects certain degree of complacency and arrogance, that can do no good to any country.