What has America done in your lifetime that you can actually be proud of?
I was trying to come up with an answer and I thought of two things that happened in my lifetime.
Technologically, America has given the world the personal computer and the Internet, and that is something to be immensely proud of.
Politically, one of our presidents, Jimmy Carter, made peace between Israel and Egypt, and that is something to be proud of too, because that peace still holds.
For the rest, our record is pretty dismal.
After Carter came Reagan, who brought us the Iran-Contra scandal, and spent us into debt. There are some neocon idiots who say Reagan won the Cold War against Russia, but that is total BS, because the Russian Empire crumbled from within without any help from us. Russia lost the Cold War; we didn’t win it.
After Reagan came Bush One, and what did he do for America to be proud of? I can’t think of a single thing, except that he once threw up on a Japanese official in Tokyo.
Then came Clinton, and what did he do? He let the genocide of Rwanda happen. Almost a million Rwandans were cut to pieces by machetes, and the one country and the one president who could’ve stopped the slaughter, America and Clinton, didn’t lift a finger.
Then came the America of Bush Two. Between Enron, Katrina, the Iraq War, Ford Motors losing $35m a day last year while Japanese car companies are building cars profitably on our soil, and the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries by our highly patriotic corporate elite, there is absolutely nothing to be proud of.
And much to be ashamed of. When 9/11 happened, the French said, “we are all Americans now,” and the people of Iran held candle-lit vigils for us. So what did we do with all that goodwill, and that huge moral opportunity? Did we lead the world into a new era of international cooperation and peace? Did we produce leaders like MLK or Mandela or Gandhi to make the world look up to us?
No, we went from being beloved by the world to being the world’s biggest bullies. Terrorists have probably killed no more than 10,000 people in the world in the last decade, while we have caused the death of over 600,000 Iraqis, which include hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children. We’ve become the new terrorists of the world. Those countries with half a brain hate us, and those with a whole brain are scared of us — and both kinds of countries have good reasons for their hate and their fear.
And what of us chumps unfortunate enough to be stuck inside the USA? We’ve got ourselves a government that we can’t trust to do anything right, that hasn’t stopped lying to us from day one, and that keeps a healthcare system going that costs twice as much as any other in the industrialized world and gives us worse care than Cubans or Albanians get from their threadbare, primitive systems.
Wouldn’t it be rather nice to be proud to be an American again? Wouldn’t it, for example, be rather nice to have a president who didn’t get elected because he courted voters who hate gay people? Wouldn’t it be rather nice if we didn’t need the likes of Hugo Chavez to help our poor people in the Bronx keep themselves warm in winter? Wouldn’t it be rather nice to have religious leaders who don’t go on drug binges with hustlers?
Ask yourself: is there anything you can do to make yourself proud of America again?
I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to vote in 2008, and I’m going to make certain I help pick a president who might make me proud of America again. I sure as hell won’t vote for McCain or Giuliani. I don’t think either of them have it in them to make me proud of America. I might vote for Hillary, if she can stop herself from being the most calculating politician since Hitler. Or for Obama — he talks such a lovely game of bringing our country together, even if he doesn’t stand for much else. I’d probably vote for John Edwards, because he sincerely and seriously wants to do something about the many poor people in our midst, which we as the richest country in the world should be totally ashamed of having.
So maybe voting for John Edwards might make me proud of America again. It isn’t much, but it’s a start. Heck, we’ve got to start somewhere. Being proud of your country is the least you can do for it, and the least it can do for you.
But I’m not holding my breath. America and its leaders have been too disappointing lately. Sometimes I wish I were Canadian. Not that they have much to be proud of, but at least they have nothing to be ashamed of. At least they don’t have celebrities who walk around flashing their shaven cooches at the world. At least they don’t live in a permanent cringe, waiting for the next shameful thing their country will get up to, like attacking Iran or spending gazillions on stealth bombers that have no purpose on earth except to take tax money out of my pocket and give it to some rich CEO who already gets more tax breaks than me.
I’d really like for America to be more than the dumb, dangerous joke we’ve become. We’re scraping the barrel here, folks. One of our astronauts just drove halfway across the country in a diaper to pepper-spray someone. When we can’t even be proud of our astronauts, isn’t it time to do something about the state of the one nation on earth that used to be the world’s hope, and is now the world’s despair?