The American Interest
Policy, Politics & Culture
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The Ties That Used to Bind The Decay of American Political Institutions

We have a problem, but we can’t see it clearly because our focus too often discounts history.

Published on December 8, 2013
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any political institutions in the United States are decaying. This is not the same thing as the broader phenomenon of societal or civilization decline, which has become a highly politicized topic in the discourse about America. Political decay in this instance simply means that a specific political process—sometimes an individual government agency—has become dysfunctional. This is the result of intellectual rigidity and the growing power of entrenched political actors that prevent reform and rebalancing. This doesn’t mean that America is set on a permanent course of decline, or that its power relative to other countries will necessarily...