By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
No one can or will say that America was ever a perfect country, but the myth of American exceptionalism seemed untouchable – until now.
What we are seeing and experiencing is a decline of American democracy as we have always known it, and simultaneously, a decline of the American Empire.
All of the world’s great empires have eventually fallen. The Persian Empire lasted from 550 BCE until 330 BCE.
The Arab Empire, also known as the Caliphate, began in 632 CE and began to crumble after 900 CE. Part of its power came from its geography, which allowed it to connect with other major civilizations in Africa, Europe, Central Asia, India, and China. The Mongol Empire began in 1206 CE and fell in 1294 CE.
The Roman Empire officially fell in 476 CE, as Romulus Augustulus lost power to a Gothic chieftain. It is touted as being one of the greatest empires the world had known. It began in 753 BCE and lasted for over 1000 years, and while it lasted, it set its mark in Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa.
The British Empire was at one time the largest empire in human history. It began in the 16th century and by the late 1700s, had colonies in America and the West Indies. The so-called “First British Empire” fell at the end of the American Revolution and the “second” British Empire fell after its participation in two world wars. The country, or the empire, ran out of money and had to tell American officials that it no longer had the money or troops to defend Turkey or Greece.
America’s status as empire is said to have begun in 1898. Because of its support for the independence of Cuba, the United States became involved in a war with Spain. The 1898 Treaty of Paris gave Cuba its independence and resulted in Spain giving up some of its possessions, including Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.
America has enjoyed the status of being an empire, a major world power to which all nations have looked to for assistance and guidance.
But its status as an empire is weakening under the current administration. The democratic government which has been emulated by countries all over the world is being dismantled from its very center, as the president ignores, disrespects, and disregards the Constitution and the government it put in place to save America from becoming a monarchy or totalitarian state.
America’s flawed beginning as a nation which professed to believe in liberty even as it fought to preserve the institution of slavery made this country weak from the beginning. W.B. Yeats’ observation in his poem The Second Coming, that “things fall apart; the center cannot hold,” is being played out in real time. In the fight for power, the predator looks for the weakness of its prey, and in this present time, dictators including Vladimir Putin have identified and stuck a fork in America’s rotten center. If there is a way to weaken America, it is by forcing fomenting racist resentment to rise up, and it seems that Russia – in spite of the conspiracy theory which says that it is Ukraine is at the heart of America’s problems – is playing its ace with surgical skill.
The president says and does nothing about what Russia is doing; his desire is to increase his wealth by any means necessary and in so doing is no different than dictator rulers of other countries who have let their charges suffer as they have flourished.
The nation is tattered; the spirit of the nation is torn to shreds. The impossible partisanship has people fuming at each other across imaginary (and some real) battle lines. The privileged are throwing their weight around, and the masses of the people are suffering more and more, though some are not yet aware of how grave their disadvantages are or will be.
The upcoming election does not offer cause for much optimism. The president is a master at manipulating people to do things his way, to see anyone who challenges him as a predator, and himself as the penultimate victim. Greed, it is said, was at the center of the fall of the empires mentioned earlier, and this president’s greed is classic.
When he is out of office, what will America look like? Who will be able to mend the fences, to reestablish good and sound relationships with former allies, and who will help put the American government back together? Will there even be a desire to do that or, since this president has proven that no government is stronger than the pull of a manipulative, wealthy leader, will there be a desire to formally dismantle the “exceptional” American government and go back to the drawing board, this time establishing the government on firm ground? Will there be a willingness to admit that America’s schizophrenic legacy of touting freedom and liberty while practicing enslavement and oppression has caused all that we believed in to crumble and fall?
The past great empires, once they began falling, did not recover. Russia has a desire to be a world power; China is on the same quest, and there is no way they will relinquish the power that has been ceded to them by this administration. Nobody knows what the course of this country is at this point, but one thing is clear: we are on a path from which our Constitution was supposed to prevent us from ever having to traverse.
As dishonesty and greed and partisanship continue unabated, the country of our youth is fading, and it is very dubious that it will recover.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.