In the United States, things are much better than they feel. Economic growth has been slow post-recession, but it has been sustainable, helped along by a financial system based in law that invites outside investment more than any other country on Earth. The United States might face the same demographic challenges as its rivals, but it offsets this problem by being by far the world’s most popular destination for immigrants (a fact the current American president hasn’t been able to change, and probably won’t).
The United States’ alliance system is also exceptional. For probably the first time in history, a military has kept bases in many foreign countries for decades at the request of the hosts. As things stand, it is the U.S. that has positions in its adversaries’ neighborhoods, not the other way around. And while the current administration has been kicking America’s allies, their response so far hasn’t been to depart the alliance but to try to sustain it.
There is more good news, the best of the bunch: The United States government enjoys greater legitimacy than its rivals. It’s true that American institutions get poor marks from the citizenry, but U.S. officials don’t fear popular, violent uprisings like their counterparts in China, Russia, and Iran do.