Fans of auto racing understand the concept of momentum. Lift your foot off the gas pedal and it takes a couple of laps to regain the momentum that you’ve lost. Watchers of today’s Indianapolis 500 race heard the commentators say several times that the failure to complete a pass would run the risk of being passed by two or three cars because that failure would lead to a lifting, while the cars immediately behind would continue charging ahead and easily pass.
Today Angela Merkel said out loud what I’ve thought for a while; It’s time to start thinking about a world without America at the forefront. We’ve been dragging the world around as its leader since 1942, and many think it’s time for our friends to step up and assume more responsibility so that we don’t have to do–and pay for–everything.
The real risk of what the Trump Administration is advocating is a loss of American momentum. The world is figuring out how to live without American leadership. I’ve had clients talk to me about agricultural deals being negotiated between countries on the chance that American farm products are no longer available under existing trade deals, costing the U.S. farm exports. With Merkel’s pronouncement, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the rise of defense industries across Europe, costing American defense jobs and exports. “What if the Americans are serious about this?” is the question being asked around the globe. As they go on without us, we will soon wonder why American interests are no longer at the front of the agenda and we will regret it.
As previously discussed in this space six (6) years ago (so this is not a phenomenon limited to our current Dear Leader), American Exceptionalism is a scarce resource, and one that is exhaustible if we’re not careful. One this has become abundantly clear; we’re not careful and no longer value this resource, despite the flag pins on every lapel and daily pledges of fealty to the concept.
Once the world figures out how to live without America at the lead, it will take years, if not generations, to restore our place at the front of the pack, if we ever can.
There are those who believe that making others step up for what America has covered in the past is a good thing. That may be true in certain limited respects, but I’m certain that we will live to regret taking our foot off the gas and letting those countries figure this out and speed past us while we fix the alleged problem of bearing the weight of the world on our very capable shoulders. We will rue the day we’re no longer leading, and dictating how things are worked out. If people are upset with the way things are now, imagine how upset they’ll be with am impudent America whose desires are ignored by a world that’s figured out how to live without us.
It will take many laps around the Sun to restore our place at the lead if we let this happen. We will stop talking about “American Exceptionalism” and begin talking about “American Ordinariness” very soon.