“You know what’s wrong with America?”
I gotta be honest, I can’t stand that question. For some reason it has become the pop culture question of the decade, just as comfortable on the lips of a Fox News Anchor or an NPR analyst; it shows up on the front of a weekly news magazine or the cover of a book put out by the latest batch of political know-it-alls. It will definitely be asked more and more as November 2012 approaches.
To me this question, which smugly suggests that the speaker has the answer and that one answer reigns supreme, rings false. For our country this question has become an interrogative phrase dripping in divisiveness and seeking no real truth. It serves only to broaden the chasm between fellow Americans with increasingly divergent self-interests.
A conservative may profer the answer one day that it is crime. Another day that it is terrorism. Still another that it is taxes. A liberal (unless that’s now an undesirable word) might one day provide the answer as poverty. Or lack of health care. Or not enough taxes. The point is that at the moment the rhetorical question is raised, there’s only one answer; please hold while (fill in the blank) provides your answer.So what, if I may be so hypocritical as to ask, is wrong with America? Lots of stuff, to be sure. But what about a reminder of what we’re doing right, now and then? What about thinking that’s positive for a change?
After all, this is the country where the best products in the world are created: Boeing airplanes, chocolate chip cookies, free speech, Ford Mustangs, Idaho potatoes, the Star Wars movies (first three), Apple iphones/pods/computers/Washington apples, chicken gumbo, laser surgery, the right to a speedy trial, Harley Davidson motorcycles, Harvard and Stanford, baseball, high school proms, southern accents, trailer parks (scratch that one), good roads, Wisconsin cheese, jazz music, and (by some accounts) the stripper pole. Oh, and our flag is pretty cool.
So, when all is said and done, we’re looking pretty good, here in the U.S. of A.
As we start down the winding, twisting, switchback road towards the next election wouldn’t it be great to encounter some pundits, politicos and other p-word types who, instead of smacking us up side the head with all of our problems, remind us of how many answers we got right rather than wrong? Maybe then our political discourse would finally lead us to the holy grail: a candidate who can tell us how to do it better.
Probably not, but I’ll see how far positive thinking goes in the next 18 months.