America was great when FDR got us out of the depression with the New Deal, created the WPA, drafted the four freedoms, soon after came the Second Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN and international economic institutions, the IMF, World Bank were designed for economic stability and to prevent war.
WWII defeated Fascism, although the virus remained and has metastasized, apparently the right is ascendant world-wide. After WWII the highest marginal tax rate was over 90%, Ike famously warned about the military-industrial complex, the Marshall Plan helped reconstruction after war devastation.
The EU erased national boundaries, and allowed people to move freely among European countries and created a common currency. It looks to be threatened by a right-wing resurgence assisted by Russia and the US.
Republicans never liked the FDR vision or the New Deal including the economic stabilizers, the international institutions and, over decades, reversed a lot of it with the assistance of oligarchs and the religious right. They call it socialism now.
They steadily reduced high marginal tax rates shifting lost revenue to taxpayer debt, busted unions, empowered corporations, attacked democracy, and sunk the middle class. Income inequality soared. They scorned human rights in their ruinous, forever wars.
Most Americans valued the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, ¨Give me your tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free ¨. The US had fairly soft borders. Poor Mexicans or South Americans could work seasonally picking crops or doing jobs Americans did not want. There was no border emergency then, and there is not now. However, if the President can declare an emergency at any time, then the Congress no longer has the power of the purse, yet another assault on the Constitution.
Flaws in the original Constitution enabled Republican Presidents, assisted by election rigging including gerrymandering, voter suppression, foreign meddling, to win without the popular vote. As Republican tax cuts put more burden on taxpayers, growing income inequality resulted in government that no longer does what people, when polled, want.
Fascist, racist, authoritarian, self-serving billionaires took over an illegitimate government that slowly overturned all of the formerly high values for which the US was admired.
US fought many small wars for investors and failed to support popular movements. Terrorist blowback or mass immigration should have surprised no one. None of this could be accomplished were it not for media concentration and more intense propaganda.
The US electorate doesn´t know a lot of what government is doing because it operates in secret and big dark money enabled by Citizens United funds propaganda, buys elections, and lobbys Congress.
Infrastructure decayed as Republicans cut taxes and imposed austerity, although it would make sense to maintain it since interest rates are low. The longer we wait, the more it will cost. Instead Republicans passed tax cuts for the wealthy.
Republicans, over decades, revoked FDR's high values. They spurn international institutions like the UN, the ICC, and even NATO which are indispensable for existential global threats like climate damage or nuclear proliferation (which they oppose).
Under Trump they have downsized the State Department, bloated the military, withdrawn from international agreements, and formed a new axis of authoritarians.
The Supreme Court in Bush v Gore not only cast doubt on the legitimacy of elections, but also effectively stopped any mitigation of climate damage. In the Heller decision they allowed robust gun rights which made the US a shooting gallery. Corporate supremacy crippled the power of unions and Citizens United shoved the US toward Fascism.
The effect of weakened unions, corporate empowerment, the flood of money into politics, meant that oligarchs could control the political process. The middle class shrunk as the very wealthy gamed the system for their own benefit. The Congress abrogated its power to declare war when it passed the AUMF, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and allowed the forever wars.
(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).