There’s a lot to admire about America. And a lot of what’s good about the nation is fun, which is of a kind of Norman Rockwell, Hilaire Belloc, Mark Twain, Saturday Night Live thing which is well exemplified by the art of Loopy Dave (featured above).
However, there’s also a sickness in America which goes back to the days of the Founding Fathers, such as the addiction with slavery and the related submission of the interests of the people of the United States to those of big business, even when those corporations leave most of their wealth in the Cayman Isles, the Bahamas and the little known Swiss canton of Zug. In fact, American politics is nothing more than a mouthpiece of the diverse business interests of American capital, between those who believe in the naked unmediated viciousness of money and those who believe in some modicum of enlightened self-interest. But whatever happens it seems that the interests of business takes priority over everything else.
In its most obscene form there have been the efforts of the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry and (worst of all) the arms industry to pursue their interests at the quite obvious expense of the American electorate that time and time again are deluded into pledging support for the power of capital above anything else. Even a very modest health package, derided as Obamacare, has suffered a ridiculous degree of obstruction.
More Americans have died at the hands of domestic guns than have from foreign conflict. More Americans have died in schoolyard massacres and the like than have from terrorism in the last twenty years. And yet Americans remain wedded to guns. Just as they do to low fuel prices, low corporation tax, high calorie diets and mindless daytime TV.
The worry for the rest of the world, even those who like the good things of America and aren’t really that much better in many ways, is that the so-called leadership of those United States may not be as good a thing as some would like to think. After winning the First and Second World Wars (both of which America got involved in only when it was obvious it could only win), the land of the prairie where the buffalo no longer roam has been almost as malevolent an influence as the unlamented Soviet Union and it seems that for many nations that the biggest benefit of the end of the Cold War was the associated end of American influence (an influence it tries to reassert on the fanciful threat of a war on terrorism, even when in the most recent terrorist outrage in Kenya it was American and British citizens who masterminded the carnage).
I just hope America’s people will eventually liberate themselves from the baleful influence of big business and live up to the promise of their own constitution.