History teaches us that great political systems peak as a result of an organizing principle. Internal division often results in a new and unifying arrangement giving a state the ability to focus its strength on external challenges.
The United States has experienced this a number of times. Most recently during the Great Depression, we saw a breakdown in the industrial economy. Millions of families suffered and millions struggled politically for a better economy. Ultimately, the New Deal system of a mixed economy and regulated capitalism emerged. We were able to unite and to defeat the forces of European fascism and Japanese imperialism. Then, we held our own against communism. The example of the Soviet Union also shows us that a system can disintegrate as a result of its unresolved contradictions.
In the face of the current Great Recession we are again struggling with how to organize our future. New Deal economic principles were the basis of our current prosperity and influence. Many believe that the right choice is to accelerate their repeal. Given that the recent economic breakdown resulted from deregulation, we should be very careful about any further erosion of the system which brought us to prosperity and influence.