Monday, June 09, 2014

All too true

Ideology is making America stupid

Political illiteracy, misguided by ideology, is the core of the problem. When they look at the world, Left and Right in America today both see several billion people who are either very much like us, or want to become just like us as soon as possible. This, of course, is the WEIRD conceit I’ve discussed before, and it seems to be second nature to Americans in 2014. The only real difference is how we want to help the world to become just like us. While the Right prefers using American capitalism with periodic injections of UAVs and TLAMs – drones and cruise missiles, that is – the Left likes employing “values,” which in most places boils down to dispatching platoons of activists pushing present-day American views on race, gender, and sexuality. It seldom occurs to either Left or Right that both approaches generate considerable push-back around the world. My family is more European than American, and over the past decade, I’ve watched many of them transition from strong support of America in the world to various forms of discomfort and worse, thanks to policies enacted by Washington, DC. And if Europeans, who share enormous political, cultural, and historical ties with the United States, feel this way, you can imagine what poorer countries around the world, who have much less ability to tone down U.S. policies they dislike than Europeans do, must feel.

To many people on our planet, the USA in 2014 looks like a broken society pushing itself on others, often aggressively. While this depiction sounds ridiculous to most Americans, we must understand that is widely held by billions of people over the globe, including by many who are not congenitally anti-American. We cannot see this because we believe our ideologies so deeply that we never question their basic assumptions, Left or Right. One of the best things about getting out of the country is noting how, from abroad, the political divisions at home that seem so powerful appear trifling to foreigners, who note that beneath the Left and Right talking points there lie surprisingly common views of the world and America’s supposed place in it.
On television, which is still the dominant political medium, there are almost no grown-ups left when it comes to political and international journalism.

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