aside from the super bowl, america doesn't have just one culture; every region, state, and town has always had its own. if there is one thing that we have in common, it's that we are a nation of people who tend to do rather than talk, and we aren't very good at listening to anyone else - including other americans.
it's a monkey's paw: on the one hand, we've accomplished a lot because of that bloody-mindedness. on the other, we've reinvented the wheel a thousand times regarding things that other countries have figured out that we still haven't (like education). there are good ideas out there in the world. we used to use those and do them one better. now everyone else seems to be doing the cool stuff while we get laid off, fight over scraps, and insult each other.
other countries are taking our spot, and we don't seem to know what to do about it. it's like when 'japanese' cars started out-selling 'american' cars. remember that? everyone in michigan freaked, and you didn't dare park a 'japanese' car in some neighborhoods. but we figured it out - we have competitive cars again, and more 'japanese' cars are made here than in japan.
the only way things won't go down the toilet is if we stop picking at the things that separate us and focus on what binds us. we taught a lot of the world how to do it, and now they're eating our lunch (as they should, if we've taught them right).
we have to get smarter, and get our eyes back on the ball, or we're going to lose.