But who can blame the world and its people? The state of affairs in America is a far cry from the brief bright spot that followed the election of the new president. Hope and change were messages embraced and cheered around the globe as President Obama took his office. The world was ready for both, and pleased to see Americans embrace it. Obama accepted a Nobel Peace Prize, largely on the merit of his ideas and his life story. He spoke respectfully, inspiringly and intelligently to his international peers.
The stage was set for a resurgence of respect for America and for America to act respectably again. It was not to be. The stage on which hope and change were to be highlighted was stormed by the recently ousted, reinforced by the hordes of the unwashed, slack-jawed and ugly American fringes.
Europeans sat bewildered as the lunatic, schizoid “Tea-Partiers” rose in prominence. Any idea of medical care for all in the US was labeled socialism. Sarah Palin, in all her bombastic ignorance, rode this exaggerated minority wave to new prominence. News Corp did its worst to help. Murdoch’s stable of hatemongers lead the illiterate mobs at every step.
The abjectly corrupt Republican Party took advantage. Abusing an ill-conceived rule of the Senate, they pushed their agenda, which was simply to oppose change and hope and refuse to allow votes. They did not stop there. The administration’s plans to quickly end the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq were hit hard. As Obama brought home troops, the Republicans (and Democrats in war-industry states) demanded funding not be reduced, grumbling over the idea of ending the wars at all. Largely, they got their way.
Worse, American arrogance went on full international display in its ugliest form: Cocky General Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone. From letting his team dub the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) ‘I Suck At Fighting’ to claiming the US, “has no allies,” the general put a foul taste in the mouths of America’s friends.
Add to this a world-shaking financial collapse. It began before Obama took office, but the bailout that saved American banks from their own excesses was obscene. The Republicans thwarted even the most reasonable proposals to prevent future crises.
What is now in place is a meek set of bureaucratic procedures, and a toothless agency, unfunded and weak, whose director was also refused confirmation in the Senate. How a discredited minority party can continue to be so indulged on such flimsy grounds must seem disingenuous, at best. Add to this the IMF and World Bank demanding austerity in the current turmoil, and the knowledge that the US holds the only effective veto power in each, and you have a strong case for disdain.
Not all Americans are Republicans, Tea Partiers and war-loving reprobates. In general, my fellow expatriate Americans are very opposed to aggression and Imperialism, be it financial or military. We are more at home where the dialog has some intelligence to it. We left America for different reasons, and we do not want to go back. Who’d blame us?
Hope may rise again. The war in Iraq is over, McChrystal was fired, the recession ended, and the world may see America change. But Afghanistan drags on, the Tea Party is rising, and corporate money floods American politics. Not all changes bring hope. Hope and change in America were fashionable. The world’s people nearly passed out waiting for hope and change. Now the world is not holding its breath.