Not many Americans respect intellect. Hardly any show anything like the respect for intellect that we see in France and Germany. Disrespect for intellectuals becomes downright distaste for experts. These forces exploded under Trump. He gloried in his own obtuseness and he did not hesitate to treat as idiots people who attended those absurd rallies. The essayist Emerson saw all this a long time ago. ‘Let us honestly state the facts. Our America has a bad name for superficialness. Great men, great nations, have not been boasters and buffoons, but perceivers of the terror of life, and have manned themselves to face it.’ What, then, would Emerson have said of the greatest booster and buffoon of them all?
Well before Emerson, de Tocqueville had commented on the touchiness of the Americans.
But I maintain that the most powerful, and perhaps the only means of interesting men in the welfare of their country, which we still possess, is to make them partakers in the Government…….in America the people regard this prosperity as the result of its own exertions; the citizen looks upon the fortune of the public as his private interest, and he co-operates in its success, not so much from a sense of pride or duty, as from, what I shall venture to term, cupidity.
As the American participates in all that is done in his country, he thinks himself obliged to defend whatever may be censured; for it is not only his country which is attacked upon these occasions, but it is himself. Nothing is more embarrassing in the ordinary intercourse of life than this irritable patriotism of the Americans.
As I remarked elsewhere:
There is something close to the heart of America here. The upside is ambition, drive, and personal and communal responsibility; the downside is Salem, McCarthy, and Gordon Gekko. In some sense, the feeling of communal responsibility and participation does seem to rest well with American patriotism; so does their prickliness if you happen to query in passing something close to American hearts. The Americans tend to be more committed and involved in America. The film The Godfather begins with a product of Italian immigration saying ‘I believe in America.’ Australians are not so serious about all this kind of thing, and open discussion, much less profession, is not encouraged. If they see it in Americans, they might mumble something about people wearing their hearts on their sleeve.
You wonder at times if they will ever grow up.
The US does not need a rerun of the Obama years.
The Australian, 25 January, 2021
There in one sentence is the accumulated venom of Rupert Murdoch. That is outstanding. America does not need a re-run of the years in which the ruined US economy was repaired, the disastrous engagement in Iraq was ended, a sane healthcare scheme was introduced and a clever, decent, worldly, stable, rational and entirely honourable man served as President. They wish that we had four more years of a stupid, vain, bigoted, immoral, boastful, overgrown child as President.