Saturday, November 8, 2008

Electoral dysfunction 2

Even Americans who consider themselves progressive are terribly conservative.

McCain and Palin played up American exceptionalism, but their electoral counterparts - and their supporters - seem every bit as fond of the idea. One told me this past week, with great sincerely, that in America people at least have the right to vote, as if having the right to choose between Pepsi and Coke is choice enough, or as if the rest of humanity were living in autocracies. I heard more than once on television from “celebrities” such as Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey (and alluded to by Obama himself) that only in America can a member of a formerly oppressed or disenfranchised class rise to the country's highest political office. Tell it to the South Africans, who elected a former political prisoner as president. Tell that to the Indians, whose constitution was written by an untouchable and who elected an untouchable to the presidency. In fact the Indians have also had a female prime minster, as have the Israelis, the Germans, the English, the Indonesians, the Filipinos, the Pakistanis, and the Bangladeshis. But not yet the Americans.

In America you still have to maintain the pretense of being a church-going Christian, to supporting the military, to pretending that America is somehow special among nations, to super-patriotism. To openly waver on any makes one immediately unelectable.



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