JJH, sincere question from someone who doesn't know much of the world outside of Europe, except what I read on the web- what are you so worried about? The possible (ongoing?) decline of the US? The financial and moral decline of the American middle class and its consequences? The destruction of the ideal of liberty and freedom from arbitrary rule set down in the Constitution? The US turning into a nightmarishly bureaucratic-socialist state? The general malaise of democracy in the West and the disappearance of the notion of political accountability? I can subscribe to much of that myself, but it sometimes seems to me that US politics has locked itself into a slanging match and does not even pretend any more to be about discussion, dialogue and compromises. Who/what would you say is responsible for that, if my impression is correct?
As for responsibility:
1. the American "street" who are generally self-absorbed folk who have grown to take their freedom and lifestyle (make of it what you will) for granted and who have ceded responsibility to hold political leaders accountable to the very pols they elect.
2. the politicians-elected and appointed who by and large subscribe to "progressivism" (the view that governance should be by an elite--the criteria for admission depend on those already in the elite who set the rules of admission for themselves--who "know best" what the people should get whether they want it or not and without regard when necessary for the "greater good." This has devolved into a federal government that is anathema to our Constitution and its system of federalism whereby the people are in ultimate control of the federal government and the presumption is the federal government does not have any power not expressly given (now expanded over the last 100 years of progressivisn to include "implied" powers whether reasonable or not with the effect that the federal government is for most intents and purposes out of control). It must also be noted that progressivism has been eroding our system for over a 100 years and is no respecter of political parties with their differences usually being only in degree rather than kind with the inevitable result that the federal government grows in size and power.
3. Members of the "press" who have for the most part become the propaganda organ for the progressivists, especially those at the more "liberal" (not liberal in the classical sense) end of the socio-economic-partisan spectrum. They have abandoned their role as journalists (just the facts ma'am) for which there is special provision and protection in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. The "press" however enjoy the benefit of such protection without now giving the quid pro quo for it, which is the press' vital role in holding government accountable for staying within its Constitutional bounds.