Long before I had the pleasure of meeting Cal Thomas, I was a big fan of his books. The first one I read was in 1989, The Death of Ethics in America. The book perfectly articulated all of my feelings regarding the moral collapse that was rapidly occurring in the USA. Cal was warning America back then, as he generally does in all his major writings, that unless we get back to the kind of character and virtue described in the Bible, we, as a nation, are doomed.
Fast forward 31-years and Cal’s message from ’89 seems prophetic.
He has a new book out now and it’s another warning, in fact it’s a final warning: America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers … and the Future of the United States.
In a commentary piece Cal wrote at FoxNews, he talks about the book, saying, “Nations are made up of people. While modes of transportation, hairstyles, clothing and other things change, human nature remains the same. A nation’s strength and sustainability require more than economic and military success. There are issues of character and virtue that are stronger supporters and sustainers of any nation. As the Psalmist asked, ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ He isn’t talking about money and a military.”
In writing America’s Expiration Date, Thomas examined eight empires that believed their economic strength and military power were enough to sustain them well into the future and in the case of the Roman Empire, eternally.
The book is inspired by the late British diplomat Sir John Glubb, who found a pattern to the decline of nations. He said that pattern has not changed in the 4,000 years of history he studied and that the average age of great nations is 250 years. Rome was an exception, but even Rome followed the same path to self-destruction.
By the way, the final stage before collapse is what Sir John calls “decadence.”
Prior to that there is uncontrolled immigration without assimilation. “No nation can be sustained if it forgets its identity and fails to absorb new immigrants, requiring they learn the native language and understand the native history while leaving behind the agendas and issues of the country from which they came, while obeying the laws,” Cal states.
Massive national debt is another cause of the decline of superpowers. The U.S. currently is $23 trillion in the red (and going up quickly). Neither political party will do what is necessary to reverse course, though both parties know entitlement reform is a key to the restoration of financial stability.
A third contributor to national decline is military overreach. President Trump is cutting us back, but we have troops all over the world. In some cases – especially in Afghanistan and now increasingly in the Middle East – the wars seem never to end. They are costly in blood and money and victory continues to elude us.
The loss of a shared morality and abandoning God are perhaps the greatest contributors to decline. “We live in an ‘anything goes’ culture,” writes Thomas, “in which everything is to be tolerated, except those who disagree, who are denounced as intolerant and bigots. The Pew Research Center asked millennials their religious preference. Twenty percent said ‘none.’ A nation that does not have a transcendent sense of purpose beyond just existing will not exist for long.”
Sir John Glubb calculated that the average age of empires and superpowers is 250 years. On July 4, 2026, the United States will be 250 years old. We have been living off the inertia of past generations.
As Ronald Reagan used to say, “We are only one generation away from losing it all.”