At 228 years old, United States of America has the longest sustained Constitution in the world today. There have been ups and downs to USA’s growth, but generally one growth path from the 1770s to the 1950s, and decline after the 1950s through today. How can we reverse the trend to be great again?
Let us look at history before we project forward.
Our Founding Fathers started as highly motivated immigrants in search of better lives. They overcame British oppression through the 1773 Boston Tea Party. After the Constitution was ratified, the very innovative Americans imposed the 1823 Discovery Doctrine on Native Americans to take land ownership and leveraged slavery in the production of cotton and coolies in construction of the transcontinental railway through most of the 19th century. These actions of low morality transitioned during the Gilded Age that provided concentrated wealth to Rockefellers, Carnegies and Morgans who often turned into philanthropists partly because the estate tax rate was as high as 77%. In the 20th century, Henry Ford helped create the middle-class by giving high wages to workers to buy homes and cars. The USA expansion continued through the unofficial entry into the second world war with the Lend Lease program in 1941 until Pearl Harbor, and sustained growth after the second world war with the Marshall Plan. With about 5% of global population, USA commanded 35% of global GNP at its apex in the 1950s.
Lack of experience in a globalized world has stymied our growth. Arrogance marked the beginning of the downturn when President Eisenhower was convinced by Winston Churchill to implement Project Ajax, a 1953 coup that imposed the Shah onto the Iranians, against their will. We fooled ourselves in the Vietnam War when General Westmoreland publicly stated “Vietnamese do not value their lives” in the documentary movie “Hearts and Minds.” These mistakes correlated to the decline of our share of global GNP to 16% today, despite innovations like internet, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, etc.
Looking domestically, an estimated 64% of Americans have never left US borders. Our K-12 education never taught us about discovery doctrine nor project ajax. Hidden behind the aura of religions like Christianity are values of superiority. The original sermons delivered by Jesus focused on loving thy neighbor. As a messenger of God, Mohammad created an egalitarian religion 1400 years ago, before the Chinese Mongolians defeated Muslims in Damascus and Aleppo 800 years old that changed Islam into the current form of women oppression under the name of Islamic fundamentalism .
We are changing the ways we approach education and redress past inequities with programs like Affirmation Action. Textbooks are acknowledging the annihilation of Native Americans. However, these changes did not happen uniformly across the USA. A large swath of Americans not living in east or west coasts of the USA still have not changed their values partly because changes to their education have not happened fast enough. They associate the American decline to Affirmative Action and new immigrants. Among early evidence of their strength was the high rating of the TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” in the 1980s. Donald Trump found a way through bullying and intimidation to reach the US Presidency without winning the popular vote, in violation of the definition of democracy. It is not surprising that Americans who believe in white supremacy feel their representative is in the White House.
What about the path forward?
There is no magic dust that can make change happen overnight. Please remove our emotions and develop a sustainable path forward. There will be ups and downs, but the path to growth requires a balance of innovations with integrity. There are two key dimensions:
1. Let innovation thrive. This includes the continuation of Silicon Valley practices to find the best talent anywhere on earth. For example, we may lead the world in Global Positioning System (GPS) with 5 meter accuracy today. China’s Big Dipper will have more satellites with encrypted accuracy of 0.1 meter. If left alone, Big Dipper will become the global standard this century.
2. Encourage global education throughout the USA by including topics like the Discovery Doctrine and Project Ajax. Broaden the horizon of the 64% of Americans who have never left the US border. This disparity of knowledge is a factor in our divided USA. We need to past the tipping point as defined by Malcolm Gladwell to embrace our globalized world.
The only constant in life is change. We must embrace change and do the right things together!