Fundamentally, though, just about the entire world is reconsidering the relationship between society and government. I think the rate of technological advance has outpaced our ability to effectively address the complexities of modern life through policy. Tech-based disruption has been used by the wealthy and autocratic to further increase the wealth gap and undermine the entire concept of what a government should be and do. And they're not done. Unfettered greed knows no bounds.
Unfortunately, the two previous times that this has happened in the history of the US, it has ended in war, first the Civil and next WWI and II. I'm not sure that means that it has to happen this time, too, but I'm also not sure it doesn't have to happen. I think a foreign war is more likely than a civil war, because many of the factors that preceded WWI seem to also be present here. By that I mean that besides the obvious domestic parallels to the Gilded Age, you have Great Powers vying for international influence in far flung places around the globe, and you have the strife in the Mid East that looks very Balkan. WWI's proximate cause was Franz Ferdinand's assassination's, but it's real cause was Germany's desire to crush and subjugate France and its colonies. Ferdinand, though having nothing to do with either country, provided a convenient pretext.
Today, I think that China resembles 1910s Germany in many ways. One of Germany's big gripes was that they were late to the international game. There wasn't really even a unified country of Germany until the Franco-Prussian War in like 1874 or something. So by the time they made themselves a power all the good colonies were taken. China, having suffered a couple hundred years of international humiliation, probably feels about the same. They have used their money influence to rebalance in Asia and Africa to a certain extent, but as long as the US leads the international monetary system, they're always going to play second fiddle.
As we've all learned from the recent headlines, China is perhaps facing some sort of economic reckoning for the first time in a long time. We don't know when that will come to pass, but when it does, I think it's likely that there will be some domestic problems there. China will scapegoat the US and the US won't miss an opportunity to return the favor. Then you got yourself a stew going.
The wild card in all of this, of course, is nukes. Great Powers have never had a direct hot conflict in the Nuclear Age, and with good reason. Nukes are both a scourge and a moderating influence. I guess the net effect of nobody wanting to fight a war between nuclear powers is that either the strife will turn inward in both countries, or that we'll be forced to make peace in ways we haven't thought of.
I think where Democrats really fail right now is in thinking that we can legislate our way out of this hole. We can't. Legislation follows leadership, and right now we don't really have that. We have a bunch of rich octogenarians trying to stay relevant against the revolt of idealistic millenials whose hearts are in the right place and whose heads are up their ass. That's going to convince no one whose not already convinced to try another path. The GOP should be in free fall. The fact that they aren't speaks volumes about how poorly Democrats are leading on anything. It's a shame, too, because when the Supreme Court's imposition of Catholic law onto America becomes apparent to the average non-voter, they're going to be pissed and looking to someone to stop it. Need to plant that tree now so that it's blooming in another couple years.