“There are no existential threats facing” the United States.”
– President Obama, in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer
Oh but I can think of a few.
Lawlessness. Complacency. Authoritarianism. An erosion in morals and values. Lack of knowledge or caring about the American system of self-governance.
I could go on. But note that these threats are all internal.
In short, the only thing America has to fear is Americans.
The only thing that can bring down America is if Americans do it themselves — through divisiveness, complacency or ignorance. If we no longer hold people — including our leaders — accountable to the law and Constitution. If we don’t know our rights and obligations as citizens, or don’t care.
Sadly, we’re fairly well down that road.
Our collective knowledge of civics is abysmal. Our attachment to the Constitution is tenuous. Our leaders are increasingly arbitrary, imperious and unaccountable. Our laws are waived for some people if it feels good. Our liberties are increasingly limited by government regulation and fiat. Our borders are nonexistent, meaning huge influxes of immigrants unfamiliar with and uninitiated in our way of life, our history and the system of self-rule that has been bequeathed to us.
The naturalization process, a beautiful thing when it’s allowed to work, is being bypassed and overrun. The Constitution, our foundational social contract, is being ignored.
Existential threats are normally thought of in quick, cataclysmic terms. Nuclear war, for example. Such threats cannot be ruled out, particularly as mercurial states such as North Korea and Iran seek and develop nukes and terrorists are running around like free-range chickens.
But the real existential threat to America comes over time, like the proverbial frog in slow-boiling water.
To paraphrase President Obama, we are the threat we’ve been waiting for.