Harvey Milk, a politician from San Francisco and subject of the biopic “Milk,” once remarked, “Politics is theatre.” This sentiment is exemplified in the debates featuring President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. If one were to attempt to find a theme in these charades, it might be this: America is the greatest country in the world, no matter what anyone says.
Watching Romney is particularly interesting because he performs the most impressive semantic acrobatics. He is charged with the task of demonstrating Obama to be an incapable, dysfunctional leader while also maintaining the supremacy of the United States.
However, in reality our wonderful country is astoundingly mediocre in many areas. The New York Times of Oct. 19 lists our rankings against 34 of the most economically advanced countries in the world. We are 34th in child poverty, 28th in percentage of four year olds enrolled in preschool and 14th in 25-34 year olds with a higher education.
The article goes on to tell us the red, white and blue does reign atop the world in three areas: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, energy consumption per person and obesity rate.
It is remarkable that despite these objective, quantifiable proofs people maintain the U.S. is the greatest country in the world.
Nonetheless, The New York Times implores us to imagine a presidential candidate who speaks bluntly and honestly about our country’s precarious position.
I think because such a candidate would implicitly (or hell, even explicitly) acknowledge that for quantifiable reasons the U.S. is not the greatest country in the world, she or he would be heckled, ostracized and belittled.
We can all be reminded of the scene in the television show “Newsroom,” when Jeff Daniels, playing a brash news anchor, tears into a young woman for asking the question, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”
First, let us pause and reflect on the assumption made within the question itself, and second, marvel at the honesty offered by Daniel’s character when he says, “America is not the greatest country in the world.”
The problems with stubbornly believing in our supremacy should be obvious. We can’t move forward if we haven’t acknowledged we’ve fallen behind. Additionally, we operate as if we can’t learn anything from other countries.
We think we can move as an independent body without consequence. However, specifically in the realms of the global economy and foreign policy, we need to acknowledge our country needs the cooperation of others.
Let us once again turn to “Newsroom” for wisdom when it announces, “The first problem in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.”
As the TV show alludes, we can proceed with confidence and become the greatest country in the world once again, no matter what standard one uses.
Monsanto calls the shots and makes record profits, ...
This is really interesting. The author has a very ...