Our founding fathers considered that their (our) experiment in personal freedom required a "virtuous people" for success.
I think you are right that the degree of the experiment's failure; which is considerable IMO, can be equated with the lack of "virtue" or personal responsibility of the people over the years.
Nevertheless, I still consider our founders' ideas of how to run a country the best ones ever conceived; totalitariam governments may have the power to enforce "virtue," but there is strong tendency for evil entities to end up in positions of leadership.
Agree. We are still the best because our level of corruption is still lower than the rest of the world, including the EU. We kill our Enrons and it is still hard to bribe most officials.
Democracy can only work in an ethical society. We are on the slippery slope.
BTW. The only conglomerate of "nation states" where free trade does work and is the model for the world, is the US itself.