Their constitution stands as a model of what a nation should strive to be. Their economy dominates the economic agenda around the world. Their cultural output is vastly influential – whether you’re watching Baywatch re-runs from a hut in Burkina Faso, or subscribing to a new season at the Met.
America. What’s gone so wrong?
Today on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head, a critique of America. And maybe I can cut off the groans or even outright indignation of those who repel from more “America Bashing” by stating our intent right off the bat: to help. Like my guest today, I, too, have a great admiration for the principles of America laid down by their Founding Fathers, who were influenced directly by the ideals of French Illuminish. But it’s important to say that these ideals are actually not American. They’re universal. That’s what made Martin Luther King so powerful as an orator – he was speaking a universal truth – one that’s always been true, is true today, and always will be true.
But I think what makes America special is that they came closest to realizing it. I’m not blind to the incompleteness of their putting into practice their own Constitution – particularly in their treatment of African Americans – but that was still some potent society they created, back aways. Well today, it’s nothing like what it was. Those transcendent words in that glorious document are now dusted off and used cynically by aggressive, arrogant, paranoid politicians to inspire Americans to all sorts of nefarious ends.
Not quite what the Founding Fathers had in mind.
But our purpose today is to try to analyze what’s gone wrong in America through our psychological eyes. To try to help Americans understand where things have gone off the rails – for gone off the rails they certainly have.
Gilbert Gambucci is a proud American in the sense of loving the foundational beliefs of the country. He’s also lived outside the U.S. for 22 years, giving him an objective perspective on his own country.