What Donald Trump Is Right About: America Is Not Great Anymore

Poll finds 72 percent think that Trump is right that the United States has lost its greatness.

It amazes me that Bloomberg is reporting this as a new discovery. Didn’t we all know that Trump is right when he says that American needs to become great again? But here is the headline: “Most Agree With Trump on America’s Lost Greatness, Bloomberg Poll Finds.” And the teaser copy says, “A national survey finds that 72 percent of Americans say their country isn’t as great as it once was­—a central theme of front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign.”

Well, that might help explain why he stays ahead in the polls: He acknowledges and promises to address a problem perceived by a solid majority of Americans!

Americans are “fed up” with politics, suspect the wealthy are getting an unfair edge, and think the country is going in the wrong direction, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll that lays bare the depth and breadth of the discontents propelling outsider candidates in the Republican presidential field.

The survey shows that 72 percent of Americans think their country isn’t as great as it once was—a central theme of front-runner Donald Trump’s campaign. More than a third prefer a presidential candidate without experience in public office.

The problem is that Donald Trump can’t make the country great again any more than Jeb Bush can resurrect the economy. The problems with this country are deep and systemic. One or two presidential terms are not going to be enough. Furthermore, a major part of the problem is that many or most Americans want free stuff from the government. That means their votes go to politicians who promise to make life easier for them. This makes the problem worse and means that no politician who really tries to fix the problem is likely to stay in office.

To give you one example, think about a country’s debt. When a person runs up debts, he loves initially spending the money. Then, as his credit limit imposes itself on him, he begins to feel bad that he can’t spend as freely. Then finally he realizes he is expected to pay off the debt and that he is going to have to work even more and spend even less. Our nation won’t even acknowledge that we have to reduce spending. Once we realize we can no longer spend so much, we still won’t be able to solve the problem because, in addition to getting used to avoiding further debt, we need to pay off the debt we already owe. Or (more likely) we need to suffer through the economic upheaval that results when those who loaned us money realize they can never be repaid at full value.

Donald Trump is right to point out that our leaders have wasted away the nation’s greatness. But getting it back is going to take a multi-generational effort. That’s how America became great in the first place—multiple generations of hard work. America’s greatness is not going to be recovered overnight and it is not going to be re-created by electing the right President.