Welcome to the USA - Version 44.0

I don’t know if it was anything that the founding fathers actually intended to establish, but the United States is the most schizophrenic country in the world. And believe me, in the world we live in today, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Every four years we have the ability to completely change face, alter our collective personality and start over. Even if you hate George W. Bush with every fiber of your being, you’ve got to admit that it is very handy to be a planetary pit bull when the fight is on, then, with one simple vote, POOF! We’re as cuddly as a kitten.

One of the greatest things about this country is that our leadership changes so often and so thoroughly. When enough people think that the country needs a new direction, we instantly turn into the kids playing kickball in the park yelling: “DO OVER!” As of January 19th, 2009, the Presidential seal was arguably viewed with cynicism as well as suspicion, and just two days later, it’s an international symbol of peace and hope. That kind of miraculous transformation could definitely put a kink in that whole separation of church and state thing.

Stranger yet is the way the rest of the world totally buys into this process. Like Lois Lane watching Clark Kent take off the glasses, with one simple election, they no longer know who we are anymore. I find it amusing to watch the number of dignitaries who will make their way back to Washington as if they’re on a blind date set up by their mother-in-law. We’re the same country, we’re the same people, yet they have no idea what to expect. It makes you wonder how anybody feels good making treaties with us in the first place.

However, what bothers me sometimes is that when the world places so much attention on the resident of the Oval Office, it really sells the nation as a whole short. The list of differences between Barack Obama and George Bush may be long, but the heart of this country is its people, and on the whole, I don’t think we change nearly as much as what’s implied.

When you break it down, we are a caring society. We do what we can to promote harmony and peace. Yes, we react violently sometimes when our safety and security are challenged, but if you’re honest, you’d be hard pressed to make the case that we’re oppressive or unfair to any other nation. Without the United States, the United Nations would probably fail to exist. Without Americans, billions of dollars of aid would never find its way into the hands of the hungry, sick, or downtrodden. No other country drives social awareness like the U.S. No other country demands such a high standard of accountability from itself and its world partners. We are not perfect, but we still strive for perfection, with liberty and justice for all.

The election of a new president does not change who we are, and the change of leadership definitely doesn’t change where we are going. We can announce our intentions to the world with whom we call upon to be President, but the actual change is still up to us. Government is not the solution to our problems; it is only the guardian of our freedom. The minute we stop relying on ourselves more than our government, we lose the spirit of perseverance that built this country into what it is today. We’re supposed to support the President, not the other way around. 

What got us into this whole problem is the steady regression away from personal financial responsibility. Whether it was the stock market bubble, the housing market bubble, or just the credit bubble, too many people got caught up looking to get something for nothing. Tell me how the nomination of a new president will correct those problems. If we place the responsibility of recovery entirely on the shoulders of our government we’re only shifting the responsibility, not taking any for ourselves.

When it comes to war and international diplomacy, we need to rely on the judgment of those we elect. But when it comes to everything else, we need only rely on ourselves. After all, the government can only give to one man what it first takes away from another. And it should never be expected to do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves.

It’s okay if an election changes our world image, but it is not okay if that change requires us to sacrifice our self respect.

Read More on Perspective
Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 11:23 PM, 01.27.2009