The foregoing fears aside, this is still America. We beat the Nazis. We beat the communists. People have been predicting the imminent doom of America’s global leadership at least since 1989, and certainly all through the Cold War before that. America is, as I said, an entrepreneurial society. We are terrifically well-educated (even if it is sometimes rational for voters to remain ignorant of policy) and creative, and we have solved a tremendous number of large, intractable problems in our nation’s history. If any country can get out of the mess I think we’re in, it’s us.
I don’t know how it’s going to happen. I expect to be surprised by it when it does. And I expect that it will involve sacrifice from all sectors of society, from everyone equally. I may take a dim view of the Baby Boom’s self-absorption, but I don’t think it’s a lost cause.
Still, I feel fairly specific about what’s wrong and what could happen if we do nothing. I have no specifics about why I still ought to have hope. But without hope we have nothing at all, a society around us full of sound and fury and empty of any definable meaning. And like I said, this is America. I hope we will be able to fix our problems—after all, it’s just debt. It’s just money, money we don’t have to spend, really. We can handle this one. But it’s going to require a lot of people to grow up. We need to find rational reasons for voters to pay more attention. We need to remind people that the stakes are very high for our government. And we have to get people to try to work together to solve this one overarching problem. And then, when it’s done, we can offer ourselves congratulations, slap each other the back, and go right back to yelling at each other on television. It shouldn’t be too hard.