The United States Of America - One Nation, Sinking under God?

I'm not a US citizen - I need to say that up front.

But when I was growing up I had an image of America as a magical place - the promised land, and I know I wasn't alone in that.

NASA, Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Death Valley, the Constitution, Elvis, Evil Knievel, Computers, Films, Music. If it was cool, exciting or expensive, the biggest, the brashest then it was made in America, invented in America or could only be afforded by Americans.

Progress, change, intelligence, freedom and idealism defined America in my mind. When I grew up I wanted to live there. America was where the future happened and I lived in the past with my cups of tea, Queen and depressing weather.

America simply was the best country in the world, it was irrefutable.

It may have been fantasy but it was an important fantasy. It defined my expectations and aspirations, it was my yardstick for what was progressive, modern and good - in every sense.

And then when I was 11 I went there. Cape Canaveral, Disneyland, all you can eat restaurants. It was all true. Heaven existed right here on earth.

Maybe it was me - maybe I broke America. Because after I'd seen it, after I'd touched it something started to change.

The last time I visited the America was Texas just before Bush was re-elected. I could taste fear, hate and religion in the tap water. A waiter there, the guy who served my burger came and sat with me at at my table and quietly poured his heart out. He felt he could say things to me - an anonymous foreigner - that he he couldn't say to anyone else. Things about God, politics, corruption. He'd woken up felt all alone and didn't know what to do, he couldn't understand how it had happened, he never saw it coming.

At some point a sense of entitlement engraved with "In God We Trust" had infected the magic.

Just say the words, print it on the money and everything will be OK. No need to think - that's elitist, no need to sweat - that's demeaning. I want my MTV. Ignorance became an opinion, fact became debatable, up became down. Because we say so - Q.E.D.

How things had changed since I was 11. Zombie movies and Deliverance had become insightful metaphors.

And yes I know deep down that this new view of America is just as much a fantasy as my first. The truth was always somewhere in between.

Maybe I just grew up and saw through the veneer and realised that the world is an unfathomably complicated place with deep eddies and currents. Just like my waiter.

But are we really doomed to a world of mediocrity, vested interests and small selfish ideas? Must we put up with the cynical political manipulation of the superstitious, the glorification of stupidity and ignorance?

I miss the America of my childhood imagination - a benevolent role model for the world, somewhere where things were always better than here. I want it back, I think we all want it back.

Or have we just grown up?

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It is with great sadness that I agree 100 percent with you. I'm a US citizen and I hate reading about my country's history as being rooted in the Enlightenment and reason, and then to look up and realize that was then, religious bigotry and fear are now.
I think the danger itself lies in the romanticized ideology of the American Dream. When American became an influential political state after winning the war and dominating the world ecnomy, obviously other countries bowed down in awe and wanted to be like big brother America. However, I think we can finally see the results of the American Dream now, and that it can be right out dangerous. Basically, the American Dream lead us to our current consumerist society (no doubt America was the leading country in consumption, and still is, just look at the size of their XXL hamburgers!) and the importance of materialism. I think we will soon clash into a romanticist era again which also happened with the Enlightenment. We are moving away a lot from what we actually can feel give meaning to our lives, and thus, it ends up with many feeling empty and not knowing what to do, because it is the end. What else can you fill your life up with more than working 8 hours a day? Productive to the society as a whole, but how productive is it for you as a person, a human, an individual?
Brilliant! I grew up in Europe, and din't even know I was a US citizen until I moved here. I understand completely where you are coming from Paul.
America has many amenities and privileges that other countries lack, but beneath the surface, we have many problems that run deep. Democracy is a sham. Public opinion has no influence on governmental decisions. This country is truly controlled by an oligarchy and our politics are merely a wealth and power game. Though I suppose this is par for the course when dealing with capitalism.

I desire unification amongst America's people. We are divided on the base level due to race, religion, socio-economic status, and many other factors. Corruption will remain commonplace until we can unite against a government that is screwing us with no rubber. During the Bush administration, the size of our government increased by 40 percent. There is no way that benefits the lower and middle classes. And as the whole world knows, our economy is in shambles due to a horrible administration, a lackluster congress, poorly regulated branches of government, and avaricious corporations. But I don't mean to complain too much about our politics.

I still like this country. I have a pretty good job and I enjoy my life here. Sure, the American Dream may just be a fantasy, but as we mature, all of our fantasies die (except for the fantasies of theists). We still have great stuff though.
I don't know about that. John McCain gives me some hope that my fellow Americans can put aside their differences and work together to save our planet. It's unusual for a republican politician to even admit that global warming is a reality, but John McCain does. He is also interested in breaking dependence on foreign oil. Barack Obama agrees.

So it seems that the next POTUS, whoever that may be, will have committed himself to cleaning up the environment. It will be up to the American people, and to our representatives to hold the next president to his promise.
Candace: On Puritans... As you know, the Europeans were smart enough to kick them out

I have this little theory:

America:
Credulous optimists emigrate - they believe, often on the flimsiest of evidence, that the grass is greener in the new colonies. So they leave and start a new life taking their credulous optimistic genes with them - then they kill off most of those pesky indigenous peoples and breed.

Australia:
Criminals on the other hand are antisocial pragmatists. We exported all our best criminals to Australia - where they killed off most of those pesky indigenous peoples and bred.

Britain:
We're just left with lazy moaning realists - the rest have buggered off and are having all the fun.

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