George Graham

In Spite of Everything, America is the World’s Beacon

I like to tell Sandra, who was – as the song puts it – born in the USA, how enlightened and reasonable Canadians are, how they have accepted diversity and how they have learned to get along with each other, etc., etc., etc.

And there’s a lot of truth in all that. Canada is an eminently reasonable place, so sane that it can sometimes be boring.

I don’t think you will find any Canadian officials huddling together to discuss President Obama’s “mind control” and the secret UN plot to take away their property, for instance.

And here’s an excerpt from an article by Jillian Rayfield in Salon.com this morning:

Georgia state Senators held a meeting last month to discuss Agenda 21, a supposed UN conspiracy to deny private property rights, which Obama will help accomplish through a mind-control technique known as Delphi.

I don’t think you’ll hear any Canadian TV commentators bemoaning the loss of “traditional Canada” the way Bill O’Reilly lamented the passing of “traditional America” on Fox News after the re-election of this country’s first black president.

I cannot recall Canadian politicians making the kind of lame excuses that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have come up with. The defeated duo claim they lost the election because President Obama bribed African-Americans, Hispanics and students with handouts and offered young women free birth control pills.

And they are not alone in their shameless display of bad sportsmanship. Republicans are all over the TV this week, throwing tantrums like a pack of spoiled brats who didn’t get that toy they wanted.

How can anyone take America seriously when its citizens insist on behaving like that?

Today, with the news of a “secession threat” spreading across the media and l’affaire¬† Patraeus monopolizing the airwaves, America doesn’t look like an advanced country to the rest of the world. It looks like a laughing stock. I can just see those Frenchmen in their berets sipping Beaujolais and sneering at the lack of sophistication across the Atlantic.

So let them sneer. It’s what they do best. But who still has the world’s most powerful economy? America, that’s who.

All day long, the pundits bleat and moan about how bad things are in the United States. You would think the country was on its knees, bowed down by massive debt and unemployment, reeling inevitably into an abyss.

Yet the record under President Obama shows slow but steady economic growth, accompanied by gradually rising employment and increasing consumer confidence. Unless the Tea Party crazies manage to obstruct the president¬† – again – and push America over the “fiscal cliff,” the months ahead will see continued improvement, the shops will be bustling this Thanksgiving and Christmas, and cash registers will ring in the New Year.

Here’s another hopeful development that seems to get overlooked. Technological breakthroughs now make it possible to tap huge discoveries of natural gas and shale oil in places like North Dakota. The problem going forward won’t be lack of domestic energy resources, it will be protecting the environment in the mad scramble to dig up and consume the stuff. And, of course, persuading Americans that it’s still necessary to develop clean energy.

Meanwhile Europe is in a double-dip recession, China’s vaunted expansion is contracting, the Mideast is ablaze…

Some pundits recently quoted Russian criticism of America’s recent elections, citing voter suppression attempts and chaos at the polls resulting from Republican state officials’ cutting back early voting periods. But the Republicans didn’t succeed in defeating the president, did they? And Russians should be the last people to talk about “free” elections.” How about taking the Bible’s advice and removing the two-by-four in their own eye before pointing out the speck of dust in America’s eye?

I know, it’s shocking that there was talk in this day and age of taking away a woman’s right to decide when and if to have children. And there was a very real threat of religious bigotry becoming the law of the land, But, in the end, the majority of America’s voters chose the more enlightened path. Americans in Washington state and Colorado even decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, opening the door to a sensible approach to narcotics regulation and prison reform. And voters in Maryland and Maine approved same-sex marriage, a breakthrough that suggests a more tolerant future for American society.

As a result of this historic election, Americans even ended up with a universal health care program. It’s a clumsy, unwieldy concoction and it took forever to get here, but it’s a start.

I know, I know, Americans still don’t look as smooth as you sophisticated Canadians (and Brits and Europeans). There are a lot of rubes and crazies among the 300 million-plus folks from sea to shining sea.But at least they’re free to act crazy and ugly, just as we are free to act urbane and enlightened.

And ask yourselves, where would the Canadian economy be without American customers? Where would China be? Where would “free Europe” be without America’s expensive military defense network? How about Japan? Taiwan? South Korea? India? Bangladesh?

The world?

So, you sophisticated Frenchmen, take a break from your sneering and raise a glass to les Americains.

America is still the bedrock of the world’s economy and the trailblazer of political freedom.

Click here for the Salon.com story.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com