As my last full day in the US nears an end, it is interesting to reflect on my brief time back in my homeland. Admittedly I was only in a very few parts of the US, and it was only a short trip, but a few things have stood out during my time here.
I am reminded how in 1835 and 1840 Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political and historical thinker and writer, penned the two volumes of Democracy in America. This famous work was largely a sympathetic look at the new American nation, as contrasted to ancient Europe.
He was very impressed with so much of what he saw, although he did warn of potential dangers. His works are still well worth reading today. My observations are of course nowhere in his league – they are far more scant and limited, so I direct your attention to his writings. But a few themes did emerge which I might speak to.
First, for the most part, Americans are a friendly, generous, hospitable and down to earth people. Of course I have spent much of my time in America’s heartland. The conservative, patriotic and religious folks of the US are found somewhat less on the two coasts, especially the northeast and northwest.
And what most overseas people see about the US is only the quite misleading picture presented by Hollywood and the leftist MSM. The typical sitcom or reality TV show from the US hardly reflects mainstream America. Indeed, I saw one segment of a celebrity reality show in which a famous female celeb (famous only for being famous) had an x-ray to prove her bottom was real.
Sadly however, even though the likes of her are far from reflective of ordinary Americans, far too many people seem to gobble this stuff up. You can more or less watch her every move on TV around the clock. Indeed, you can watch almost anything, with hundreds, if not many thousands of channels to choose from.
While Americans in the main may not have many of the more grievous and obvious vices, their sins are more banal and widespread. Not only is this a land fixated on entertainment and amusement, but it is also a place where food is king. Simply put, Americans like to eat – big time.
There are just zillions of food options, whether in the mega-grocery stores or in the endless choices of restaurants and fast food outlets. People can eat lots and lots of food in lots and lots of places and everything is very cheap and very supersized; all of which leads to lots of supersized Americans.
So a mainly religious, country-loving and conservative people tend to sin in the more routine areas. But they are still quite religious. There may be as many as 80 to 100 million evangelical Christians there. But with so many believers, why is America still such a cesspool in so many ways?
Sadly lots of Christianity in America is either privatised faith with little social impact, or is a faith which has been hijacked by foolish and harmful trends, such as the prosperity gospel. Far too many American Christians seem to be majoring in minors and minoring in majors.
Of course the culture wars continue apace. The secular left continues its war against mainstream America, and many have decided it is time to fight back. Thus we have the 15-year phenomenon known as Fox News. The Fox network is the first major conservative alternative to the mainstream media.
And it is hugely successful. I was quite enjoying watching it over the past week or so. Australia really has nothing like it, and desperately needs something similar to it. Americans have grown tired of the half-century-long assault on their values, and are reacting to it.
At the moment the Occupy Wall Street protests are on, and are spreading to other cities. It is really a mishmash of lefties and trendies who have all the usual anti-American and anti-free market agendas. Various rent-a-crowd radicals are getting on board with this, and seem to think that corporate America is the cause of all their woes.
The real truth is Obama and the Democrats are far more to blame for the economic and social mess America is now in. But as usual the MSM is treating this group as another messianic movement, just like Obama was supposed to be, while it all along denigrated the far-more widespread and mainstream Tea Party movement.
As one commentator noted: “Contemplate this: The Occupy Wall Street folks drew more broadcast network stories in the first nine days of coverage (with 24 stories) than the Tea Party drew in the first nine months (with 19 stories).” So it is nice that at least some fairer coverage on all this can be found on Fox and other alternative media outlets.
I did experience some of the protests myself firsthand. As I was walking through Madison Wisconsin today, a college town known for its radicalism, there were a group of these ‘Occupiers’ there with all their usual confusing and meaningless signs.
One of the demonstrators proudly held up a sign with these words, “Down with greed!” This encapsulates perfectly what is wrong with leftwing ideology. It reflects precisely the typical moral and mental meltdown of the secular left. They are somehow convinced that people out there (capitalists, bankers, etc) are drowning in greed, while they are somehow pristine bastions of altruism and charity.
This has always been the fatal weakness of leftist analysis. Marx thought that the bad guys were the owners of the means of production, while the good guys were the poor exploited workers. But this assessment is far too superficial and inadequate.
Evil is not in certain classes of people (the bosses, etc) but in the human heart. Sin affects every single one of us, and so too does greed. The guys holding their signs trying to shut down Wall Street and other places (with all their corporate gadgets – fancy sneakers, iPads, smart phones, etc), somehow think they are immune from greed and other evils.
But they are as full of it as anyone else. We all are. That is because we are all selfish and sinful, and in need of a saviour. But the lefty radicals think that if we can destroy American corporations and the banking and finance system we will see heaven come down to earth.
These guys are dreaming. But the radical revolutionaries continue to war against the very things which have allowed them to live the good life in the first place. Such misguided and deluded activism is not just a product of America. It is a sad but fixed part of the Western world.
Finally, America is looking to find a Republican candidate to take on Obama in 2012. Mitt Romney the Mormon is a leader, but so too of late is Herman Cain, a black conservative and businessman. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann seem to be fading a bit.
If I had my choice, a Cain/Bachmann ticket would be ideal, all things considered. But it is still early days, so we will see who finally gets the nod. But hopefully Obama will be a one-term wonder. He has already done so much to destroy America, and another term could be terminal for the once great nation.
But I must get ready to leave this amazing country. After a long 36-hour journey I will be back in Australia. That nation faces quite similar problems – and opportunities. As always, much prayer and much work is needed to help turn both nations around. Let us all commit to that task.