Commentary Magazine asked 41 Americans to respond to this question: "Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America's future?" The responses, including my own, appear in the current issue of Commentary. As we were limited to 500 words, I offer my response here, in edited and longer form.
I am both optimistic and pessimistic regarding America's future.
Here are my reasons for pessimism:
First, the unique American values system -- what I call the American Trinity -- is under assault. These three values are declared on every American coin: Liberty, "E Pluribus Unum" and "In God We Trust."
The left has declared war on all three. And it is winning. It seeks to replace Liberty with egalitarianism, "E Pluribus Unum" with multiculturalism, and "In God We Trust" with a godless society. America is being transformed -- candidate Barack Obama's favorite word for what he sought to do to this country -- into a Western European country, the left's model of a great society.
Second, the primary purpose of high schools and colleges -- and, increasingly, even elementary schools -- has become turning students into leftists.
That's one reason many of those who graduate from America's schools know what the climate will be in 2080 but don't know who Stalin was, let alone who Cain and Abel were. They are proficient at using condoms and at recycling but at little else. They have been taught nothing of American exceptionalism and would likely find the term incomprehensible, if not objectionable. And they would save their dog before a human they didn't know because morality is a matter of feelings, and they feel more for their dog.
Third, the expansion of the state is producing a new American. This American believes in rights more than in obligations and thinks that the state should take care of him, his parents, his children and his neighbors.
Fourth, the melting pot of Americans has been replaced by a patchwork quilt of "Latinos," "African-Americans" and other identity groups, all of whom, moreover, are taught to consider themselves victims of a sexist, racist, intolerant, Islamophobic and xenophobic society.
Fifth, half or more of the Jews and Christians who attend synagogue or church are more likely to be led by a priest, minister or rabbi who sermonizes not about their sins but about America's.