August 20th, 2008

blood simple

Cognitive Dissonance

Overheard about someone saying they are going to vote McCain.

"How many times do you have to make the same, retarded mistake?"

"As long as it keeps us the richest, freest, strongest nation on Earth."

How do most people in the US define these terms? How can someone believe that the US is any of these right now? It mystifies me.

I like this country, I moved here after all, and I think it can be a great place. But where does the stereotypical "GO TEAM USA #1!! WHOO!" arrogant attitude come from? That's a great attitude in sporting events, but the world stage isn't a baseball game.

Richest? Not hardly. Everyone knows the national debt is at a scary level. GDP? Dropping pretty hard. Any anyhow - GDP is a dumb measure. If someone said they were selling a lot of stuff but were $2 million in debt and unable to pay off even the interest would you think they had a strong business plan?

Freest? Again, not really. The US has an awesome amount of civil rights and freedoms written into law but given the Patriot Act, the way Homeland Security will basically just fuck over citizens lives and completely disregard non-citizens human rights... is that free? Is that what freedom is? Do you really have those rights? Or do you have them until the government decides you shouldn't?

Strongest? Maybe. Certainly one of the largest (tho China certainly beats the US in size), and the most well funded. Is that strength? Or is it really a form of weakness?

America is great because it instills a can-do confidence in its citizens - something that I think for many years Britain envied. We were kind of fucked from the 40's-later 70's. It led to some very dark, and very awesome, creativity and expression - but it also stamped a little bit of "well.. we should aim small" and a perhaps too strong level of cynicism on the nation consciousness.

Americans were seen as perhaps an antidote to that in people of a certain age - something I had to explain to Miriam the other night when we were watching Bridget Jones and Hugh Grant mentions something about his New York squeeze being american as affecting her "exotic" appeal.

So we're two sides of the same coin, as is so often the case, and whereas the resurgent pride in all things "Cool Britania" as subsided now in the UK, slightly to my chagrin, but with good reasons that are both social and political. The arrogant aspects of that pride are still solidly in US culture - the question is... why? It's not an "in the face of adversity" type pride but a "we must be awesome, because we're the US, and there is no other position."

It's... weird.