I don’t begrudge a president making a formal speech the chance to engage in some meaningless nationalism, but something I thought was really striking about Barack Obama’s speech last night was how utterly unprepared American political culture is for the idea of a world in which we’re not Top Nation. And yet the reality is that while we’re the world’s largest economy today, and will continue to be so tomorrow, we really just won’t be forever. The Economist predicts that China will pass us in 2019. Maybe it’ll be 2018 or maybe it’ll be 2022.
But it will happen. And fairly soon. And it’ll happen whether or not we reform education or invest in high speed rail or whatever. And the country doesn’t seem prepared to deal with it.