The Endless Empire
According to demographers who are supposed to know about such things, by the year 2050 whites will no longer be the majority in the United States of America. Latinos and Asians will be. Unless our country is willing to practice a low-grade form of Apartheid, these former minorities will likely possess the kind of economic and political power whites have had since the inception of our nation.
Those of us who are white, particularly white and male, take our privileges for granted. We’re used to being the group that runs society, reaps the spoils of a lucky heritage, and benefits from the ingrained prejudices that more than 200 years of power tends to breed. By 2050 I’ll probably be dead. But my heirs will have to get used to being something other than the axis around which everything spins.
Today, when we are the world’s only superpower — the arbiter, policeman, bully, leader, benefactor, and scourge of planet Earth – it’s difficult to imagine our country being strongly influenced (or possibly ruled by) another state. But the history of civilization teaches us that all empires, no matter how invincible they seem, must eventually crumble. Some, like Spain’s, were brought down by hubris. Some, like the Ottoman’s, were felled by an inability to keep up with modernity. All of them – Roman, British, you name it – succumbed to an inherent weakness, usually of the most venal type. Our downfall may come from our greed, our mania for consumption. It may come from sloth or irreverence. But it will come. And when it does our legacy of freedom and liberty will be but a footnote to the totalitarian impulses that our greatest enemies embrace.
The next empire might be Chinese or Indian. Or Russian or Mexican. It might happen in 100 years or it might take 1000. When it does, I fear Americans – who, by then, will be predominately Asian and Latino – will look back on the history of their once proud country and see a legacy of missed opportunities, of squandered wealth and decreased liberties. Of a grand experiment that couldn’t overcome the barbarism of human cruelty and power lust.
Surely, sometime soon – and I hope it’s not in my lifetime – this planet will see a cataclysmic religious war between Judeo-Christians and Muslims. Millions of people will die in the name of God, and nothing will really change. Each side will continue to believe the lord is on their side and loves them best, and when He is willing, arms will be taken up anew in the great and interminable struggle for the souls of mankind.
By then, America might be a client state of the current empire. But even when the memories of Tom Paine, Abe Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt are faint, my fervent wish is that Americans living 50, 100, 500, 1000 years from now will remember that Liberty and Justice for all were principles worth fighting for.