America In The 21st Century

Jul 4, 2021 by

Perfecting democracy is our daily task.

“Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.” So said the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) when hespoke of the American Revolution. It is Americans’ solemn duty to preserve, protect and defend it.  

Today, our democracy is broken What will it take to fix it? Our nation is at a low point and sinking. We have a destabilized democracy and a fractured nation. 

Democracy depends on seeing those around us not as scoundrels and enemies but as neighbors and allies, striving for a better life for all.  Our ideas and ideals of equality need to be constantly pursued.

But we are not there, yet

A major global disruption is likely to appear without warning that will tax our resolve. Can a “house divided against itself-stand?”

The COVID pandemic, the 2020 election, and the ensuing chaos, coupled with the Fourth of July slowly fading in our rearview mirror is a good time to reflect on who we are as a nation. 

The insanity of partisan wars has poisoned the ability of our nation to come together to address the existential threats this nation is facing. From crumbling infrastructure to historic and modern-day racial injustices, and again, attacks on our voting rights. Add to this climate change, economic uncertainty, crushing student debt, spreading inequality, fears of both stagnation and a stock market implosion, and a rising China to name a few challenges we face. 

Given the current toxic partisan polarization and the inability to even agree on basic facts and truth, can America survive?

Rising China/Destabilized America

Even as we celebrate our freedoms and blessings during our Independence Day, China is celebrating its 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. We need to ask if we can agree on the “5 C’s: Communicate,Collaborate, Cooperate, and Coordinate even as our two countries Compete. To find ways in which both China and the US can be successful vs a one-sided ‘victory’. Striving for a “see-saw” relationship with China where the US must always be in the upper position may well push the world’s two largest economies into a chilly – if not out and out Cold War.

Our U.S. leaders have a unique challenge: reconciling our national interests, along with what is right and just, juxtaposed with what is indeed possible as China shakes off its  decade of humiliation and has regained its wealth and power.


It is imperative that we position ourselves to assure China’s continued rise does not come at our demise.

As we have regularly witnessed, what happens in China does not stay in China. All should reflect on what a rising China and a deterioration of democracy in the USA will mean to the world in the coming years. 

Have we become so dysfunctional that we will be unable to come together to solve the challenges and threats facing our nation? 

What path will we take to become “a more perfect union?”

It begs the question, does the US have a shared vision and common agenda that we can rally around? What exactly are our collective values? Have we become the unrecognizable divided States of America? 

A Beacon No More? 

Henry Kissinger once said, “America serves its values best by perfecting democracy at home, thereby acting as a beacon for the rest of mankind.” Are we “perfecting democracy at home?” and are we still a “beacon for the rest of mankind?” 

It is time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going as a nation. What direction are we headed in? 

Without focus and strategic investment, the U.S. is at risk of losing in the game of global leadership — and facing a future where America does not occupy a dominant position.

If we want to maintain America’s leadership and standing in the world we need to begin reinvesting in the American people; rebuilding our nation for the challenges and assaults that are inevitably coming our way. 

It is high time that stop splintering as a nation before it is too late. If we don’t, we may become a casualty of our own hubris and dysfunction.

Let’s not be so cocky as to think that simply because we are a “leading nation” we have some God given right or destiny to remain there. Every champ can be knocked off their throne.

Let’s remember: Freedom requires a partnership between unity and responsibility. 

America and the world need the historical values and leadership of the USA.  We need to come together as a nation before it is too late. 

America controls its own destiny – will we? 

Wake up America, wake up.

Tom Watkins has been a participant observer of the political process at the local, state, national and international level  for over four decades. He served the citizens of Michigan as state mental health director and state superintendent of schools.To read Watkins thoughts on the most important bilateral relationship in thw world today; US/China see:

 You can contact Tom Watkins at:

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