I think we are going to be facing hard times. Fracking is holding aloft an economy that would otherwise be in decline. Had the decline started, it is even money whether it would have been gradual or spurred a crash of major or minor proportions. Cheap oil and other technological advances may continue to stave off serious collapse. Yet the lack of collapse encourages us to keep doing what we are doing, personally and in government, so we spend what we do not have and do not stop the bleeding in other places. That may make things worse in the long run (Nicholas Nassim Taleb, in his book Antifragile, believes this is so).
Which people, and especially which party is responsible for that I am not examining here. If Amity Schlaes can be re-interpreting the conventional wisdom about the Great Depression 85 years later (I was taught the CW in 11th grade 45 years ago. High school textbooks aren't usually cutting-edge for theory, so the CW had been in place a long time), I can't pretend to have the True Interpretation of the Obama years versus the Bush years versus the Clinton years vs...the Truman years. I only note that things don't look good, and we don't seem to have been finding ways to spend less money, neither as families nor as nations.
Foreign affairs do not look encouraging. They never look wonderful, but there are two contradictory values that are increasing in force: the idea that if anything bad is happening in the world it is at least partly our fault, so we should therefore fix it, contrasting with the idea that whatever we do abroad seems to make things worse, or at least, cost lots of money without helping much. Some folks would say it's all the fault of the West, especially America - and even the jingoists would point to things (different things) we have screwed up. Additionally, there are those who believe America should stop suffering wherever we find it, regardless of who is at fault. Because it's suffering, Jack, and we don't like to look at it. There is an isolationist streak re-arising that shakes its head. Our attempts to fix that makes it worse.
I am also not identifying who's at fault here, nor even which value should prevail. That is a different day.
But going forward, we know we are not going to be well-governed in these matters, at least for the near future. We might get lucky. The faults and virtues of any politician are usually closely related, and the crises that come might match the strengths that would be weaknesses in normal times. I wouldn't count on it, but it could be. Or the other branches of government, for their own selfish reasons, might compensate for presidential overreach. Sanders may be the leader of a Democratic delegation that Hillary can't control. Trump certainly has a host of Republicans looking for a chance to dig in against him. Where will it lead? Will it all neutralise, and we test the old saying "The government that governs least, governs best?"
We face looming crises and we will not be well-governed. That is the most likely outcome. My growing thought is that it all matters less than we think, for good or ill.
How shall we then live?