Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock till you began reading this sentence, then you’ll know by now that the Republicans have won the US presidential election.
I’m disappointed, certainly. But I’m not surprised.
Why? Because you have to see things from a significant proportion of Americans’ point of view.
There has been a lot of comment about the existence of not one, but ‘two Americas’: the commonly self-righteous liberal left, vociferous about welfare, the environment, education and civil liberties; and the oft-hypocritical right, fearing the erosion of the moral fibre of _their_ country. Discourse about the American condition, from within or without, is so polarised in this manner that it’s hard to see there is in fact not one, not two, but a _multitude_ of Americas. One for everyone in the audience.
At the root of it (moral issues aside, since that’s a whole topic unto itself) the average American doesn’t give a damn about what happens in the rest of the world, or what the we think. He doesn’t give a damn about what folks over the state line think. He doesn’t even care what the people next door think! The average American only cares about what’s best for him and him alone. It’s not about the war or national security or any of that crap; it’s all about the primacy of the individual.
So what if the liberal big cities get attacked? So what if Israel and Palestine bomb each other into oblivion? So what if thousands more troops lose their lives in Iraq (which is fast becoming the new Vietnam)? As long as no one interferes in his own business — be it by bombs or by taxes — that’s all that matters to Joe Citizen. The rest of the world is just a theme park, or a movie.
Putting it like that (in an admittedly crude, not very well thought through manner, to be sure) it seems completely irresponsible. But that’s the way it is. And frankly, I doubt that it’s any different anywhere else in the world.
Come on, people; we’re all selfish bastards! It’s a rare individual who thinks of anything other than what immediately concerns him when he goes to the polling station. Not to mention that the whole process is clandestine: the ballots are secret; open debates amongst the general public are the exception, not the rule; we leave all the decision-making up to the politicians, most of whom we don’t directly vote for anyway. We haven’t practiced true democracy in this world since the Greeks two millennia ago — and strictly speaking, even _they_ never did it.
Let’s be honest. The only real distinction between this election and any other is that America is _the_ superpower, the only nation that wields a significant influence on global events — and that, sadly, affects us much more than it affects them. They’re not any more or less stupid or ignorant than the British or the French or the Germans or the Irish or anyone; there just happens to be more of them, and their decisions have a greater impact, much greater than they understand.
Do the rest of us have any say in all this? Do we fuck. It’s up to America alone to take responsibility for itself. And for us, it’s time to stop crying like fucking babies and start practicing what we preach; only then will we have a right to reply.