Their level of general culture is low, and sliding further towards the abyss of knownothing ism.
Consider the calibre of the slate of Republicans vying for the GOP standard bearer status in the 2012 elections.
All are college educated. All financially have nothing in common with the vast majority of Americans; all espouse reactionary social, political, and economic ideas that have one goal: the iron rule of finance capital and corporatism.
Take Newt Gingrich, ph.d. in history, criticising Mitt Romney for knowing French, which he learnt as a Mormon missionary in France as a way to escape military service in Vietnam.
A European would laugh at the very notion that knowing a second language is a political sin.
You can say that Gingrich's is a cynic, he knows better. Perhaps, but he is not loathe to inflame the ignorance of the American people at a time of great economic stress.
The general state of US education is something not to be desired. Endless studies lament that the US is dumbing down, and what can you say to someone who thinks the state of Wyoming is a foreign country?
People like Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, and Paul are willing to starve education budgets to trim a 'fat government'. Well, a farmer could call them on that idea: if you don't put enough manure on a field, you're betting on a poor harvest.
A decline in the level of general culture indicates a general decline of the US in the comity of nations. Robert Kaplan challenges this idea: he's for more military spending. Translation: beggaring the general health of America to keep it on a warfare state. And in an age where the US has shown it cannot win wars it began in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kaplan thinks it alright to beggar the ordinary citizen to feed the monster that is the military industrial ogre. Ironically, Kaplan's nostrum will push the rock of US decline faster towards the bottom of the hill.
The global recession of 2008 unhinged the minds of America's elites. They turn towards the past for a fix. As such, they willingly sacrifice the country's future.