Despite prognostications to the contrary, it is not inevitable that the United States will cede its place as the world's leading nation to China. However, if the American political system remains as dysfunctional as it is today, China may rise above us by default.
While China invests in infrastructure, our federal government allows the nation's highways, bridges and power grid to deteriorate. While China puts a premium on education and research, our national politicians refuse to provide the resources needed to educate a new, diverse generation of young Americans to a level necessary to compete with the world or to keep Americans laboratories and cutting-edge enterprises functioning at full power.
China is burdened by a stifling one-party political system. Still, decisions get made, action is taken, stuff gets built, things get done. The United States has a two-party system that is so gummed up by unscrupulous political warfare, unending campaigns and ideological idiocy that it may as well be a no-party system. No party can get anything accomplished because few political leaders have a vision of a common national interest that rises in importance above partisan advantage.
If China wins the future, it will happen because American leaders failed to stay in the game.