It doesn’t take long, once outside of the United States, to understand the high degree of insulation we both enjoy and suffer from in our Republic.
In the four countries my wife and I have visited since we left on vacation last week, when the locals find we are Americans, a wonderful conversation usually commences,
“Is it as cool as your movies?” I’ve been asked by those who haven’t visited. We are usually asked how large our country is and do we travel around it.
I remark how in five hours I can visit five countries in Europe, but I can actually drive for 10 hours in Texas and never leave the state.
That usually gets their attention.
Our European neighbors invariably love New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the East Coast. Some of them express fondness for the South and the Blues in Memphis and the Jazz of New Orleans.
Then after talking about the greatness of the U.S. and their fondness for it, our European neighbors express a deep fear based on what they see from their American friends on social media, what they see in our television news and how we treat those who offer political dissent.
“You’re becoming more like Russia now, aren’t you mate,” a friend of mine from London said openly. “I see people in your country aligning themselves with that thug Putin. He’s a gangster.”
When a sports star refuses to stand for the national anthem, another friend of mine said, “I thought that’s why you bloody Yanks left us anyway – you’re all about rebellion aren’t you?”
I shrug at these comments as I do when the discussion circles back around to the Presidential race.
I can offer no cogent response to those who ask me about our Presidential race because I can see no cogent reasoning in this race. There are merely people who will vote Republican no matter what. You could run a trained monkey who throws his own feces at a glass cage and people will vote for that person because they are running as a member of the GOP.
Hillary Clinton told Republicans if you want to vote for the party of Lincoln (standing on the stage in Philadelphia during the DNC), then vote for her.
Clinton is far more in line with the leanings of the old GOP, but they won’t have her. They have no taste for her moderation and no stomach for her as a Democrat and as a woman.
She is about as much a progressive Democrat as a feral cat is a beagle, but facts do not figure here.
Meanwhile, you have Democrats who will not vote for anyone but a Democrat for the same reason the GOP fans won’t vote for Clinton.
Our Presidential race from this side of the Atlantic looks like two wrestlers drying to drown themselves in mud while the rabble cheers and prays someone’s underwear is pulled free. I’m thinking of the John Candy/mud wrestling scene in Stripes – but shudder at the mental image it brings me of the Donald.
No one wants to face the reality that our political parties are not only irrelevant but completely out of step with reality. The party of small government and personal sacrifice – the rugged individualism of the GOP has been high-jacked by extremists whose agenda is only vaguely understood and even more vaguely explained.
The party of the progressives has been high-jacked by the former GOP and is as vague in its agenda as the high-jacked GOP.
Conservative and Liberal are terms which no longer have meaning. The land of the free and the home of the brave is now – post 9/11 — the land of the bitter and home of the afraid.
There are those in Europe who believe that, although we found and killed Osama Bin Laden, that when he bombed the World Trade Centers, he won the war against America by turning America on itself.
“If you don’t like it here, then leave,” is the harsh reply of many in our country as we confront that revelation.
But it really should be examined more thoroughly. We are tired of politics as usual. The Patriot Act has destroyed the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution – eroding the foundation of our Republic and destroying our notion of what makes our country great.
Donald Trump says he wants to make the country great again.
Sitting across the pond watching this Presidential race from afar for this short time makes me understand this – our country is already great. It’s our politicians who aren’t.
Good luck with that at the ballot box as we discern just how low we can go.