America Makes the Grade and the World Mourns

destephens Uncategorized , ,

You are crushed. Heartbroken. Angry. You are looking for answers.

How did an overtly and unapologetic raging misogynist become president? How did a racist, draft-dodger become commander in chief? How can a guy who tells a lie before his little feet hit the deck in the morning be trusted to lead this country?

You are asking the wrong questions. Try this one: Why are you surprised Trump was elected?

As we search for that answer, I want to give you some good news. As different as Uncle Sam’s Blues and Reds want to think they are, they share one very American similarity: They both see their country as being greater than it really is — or ever has been.

On a scale of 1 to 10 America has been right around a seven or eight for most of its young life. Not bad, but not great, either. Oh sure, there have been times we were zeros (how is it again you are defending slavery?) and 10s (I know the order is tall — impossible even — but you simply have to take that beach.) But mostly we’ve been a seven or eight (give me your tired … your poor … your huddled masses <good, good!> — but don’t ask me to give a good goddam about the people who lived here long before we Europeans arrived <sigh>).

Most countries would take being a seven or an eight. There’s a lot that goes into being a great country. It’s hard work. It takes planning. Is everybody eating? Everybody have a roof over their head? How educated are folks? Do they have a sense of the world around them? Do we provide for our elders? Do they feel safe …?

Now you are saying I am a generous grader. True enough. Must come from never working very hard at school. One can get tired and angry of getting what you deserve instead of what you want …

So, sure, I’ll cut Lady Liberty some slack. Seven or eight it is.

So when the ardent Trump supporters (Slogan: Make America Great Again) and the oh-so-sure Clinton Supporters (Slogan: Stronger Together) lined up to cast their votes, each one had their own sense of America.

And then we found out only 56 percent of the eligible voters even bothered to show up at the polls …

See what I mean? That’s like a ‘2’ move right there, America. But only if 2 means pathetic. What were the other 44 percent doing that was so damn important on Election Day? Hunting for the best deals on burritos? Whining there were no good choices, before somehow picking out a frozen pizza among the 147 brands in the supermarket’s frozen pizza aisle? Sitting it out and calling it standing on principle? Er, searching for their proper voter IDs …?

Are we to believe the architects of the greatest country on earth would have only about half of its citizens voting? You call that great??

I was sitting in a bar in Tokyo in 2005 or so … An Australian gal next to me seized upon my Yankee accent to start banging away at me about the oh-so-unpopular Iraq War. Anyway, after about 10 minutes of this I surrendered for the fourth time. But on she went. She wanted blood. Like so many of us right now, she was looking for answers.

“What is wrong with you stupid fucking Americans?”

“Don’t you know the rest of the world is watching? Do you just hate us? Is that it?! You hate us?!”

Trying on a contemplative approach to giving up, I drained my beer and calmly answered, “America doesn’t hate you, love. Fact is, we don’t even think of you at all.”

She just glared at me. Like I was a 1.

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Lived everywhere. Started in Africa, then to America, then to Europe, then ... back to America, which lately seems to pride itself in going back. Almost made it 30 years in print journalism, before it all went bad. Really? Don’t think things are bad, eh? Who’s your new president, pal? How did that happen? Because it all went bad.

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