Mike Truesdale writes and performs comedy in the city of Los Angeles. This is how he wastes his time. Well...one way he wastes his time.
So I watched the RNC again last night and while the cheers and laughs that echoed throughout that building in Tampa were gag-inducing and symbolic of how far behind some people in this country are, the message and platforms of the GOP themselves were what stood out in an unflattering light.
This notion of exceptionalism is something that you’ll hear Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Ann Romney, even Condoleeza Rice and that exceptional athlete Chris Christie hammer home time and time again. The aim here is to say, we don’t just want to bring America out of the shit, we want to bring it back to the best country in the world again. I would say to these candidates and anyone sharing this line of thinking. That’s not what we need anymore.
We’ve been beaten down for over a decade now by 2 administrations with woefully regrettable economic and foreign policies and after having been down here for so long, we don’t need to aspire to be the greatest, we just want to be happy. We want to be comfortable, we don’t want to stretch every paycheck until it snaps. We want to not have to freak out if we have an accident worrying about what the fucking ambulance will cost us for the next 5 years of our lives. We don’t want to be 25 and 26 year olds living at home, in a home our parents have a hard time affording to begin with. Yet, we’re a country where most people have 2-4 cars and 50 inch flatscreens and we BBQ on every holiday. We don’t need opulence or any sort of trophies for Keeping Up with the Jones…or Kardashians, we need sustainability. This is a skewed value system that we perpetuated and are as much to blame as our last 2 presidents.
Our kids don’t need to grow up being fed this tall tale that America is the greatest country on Earth when it’s not, or even if it is, that shouldn’t be the center of our value system. Exceptionalism can be dangerous and when your value system comes from how exceptional you are, or where you live and what you have…when there’s a shift that displaces you or forces you to downsize or really look at yourself, it’s not something people are willing to do a lot of the time. And, it’s a slippery slope. The same pride that keeps a man who is upside-down on his mortgage from selling his luxury car for a more practical one is the same pride that keeps us in a war for 10 years that we can’t afford. Our kids just want to be happy, they want parents who can provide for them and they want to grow up loved. That’s about it.
This isn’t to say let’s fix nothing and be happy with being average. We should always strive to be the best that we can be and hopefully that means we’re the best. But if we’re so great why are we 37th in healthcare (Source: World Health Organization), 21st in Education (Source: EI), 34th in infant mortality (Source: UN) but somehow 1st in GDP and external debt? Aaron Sorkin called this issue to light in the pilot of The Newsroom. It’s what the whole show is based around, that America is NOT the greatest country in the world. At this point, we don’t have to be.
If Romney or Obama or anyone else is aiming to make America the Empire again. Guess what, empires fall. 100% of the time. There is always an end. Just think about that allegory known as Game of Thrones. The struggle for power leaves a lot of death and the power never lasts. But if you look at a place like Sweden, never been king of shit but it’s tied for happiest country in the world (Source: Washington Post), the other happiest? Denmark. No one would think of them as kings of anything but it’s expensive to live there because it’s awesome and the people aren’t lost in a haze of media bullshit. In the polls and interviews used to conduct this study, citizens from both country said that they are thriving. THRIVING. Think about that word, then think about your life and if not your life, the lives of most people you know. Is America thriving? No. Do we need to be an empire to thrive? No.
If America were a baseball team, we definitely wouldn’t be the Yankees. But let’s just say we’re a mid-market team with some money but a lot of mismanagement and an unhappy roster of players asking to be traded or holding out for better contracts and it’s no longer a game because they finished 4th in their division of 5 last year, its a business. If you give that team to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, they’ll say, alright well we need to be the best team in the league, that’s clear. We can do it. The players will say how? And then Romney/Ryan will give some more inspiring talk without any real plan or strategy as to how do it, unless Romney just decides to firesale all his players and fires all the janitors that work there for good measure. If you give that same team to Obama, he’ll go, alright we need to spend some more money and get some big bats in the lineup and some Cy Young winners in the bullpen. But anyone that knows baseball knows that what we really need to do is get a locker room guy, an RBI guy, a big blast guy, a leadoff guy with speed, 1 or 2 really good gloves in the infield and a cannon or two in the outfield. Then we need an ace and 4 pretty good young starters. Some clean-up guys and some set up guys in the bullpen and a shut ‘em down closer, and we need to invest in our farm system because odds are we won’t be in the World Series next year. (farm system = education if this analogy hasn’t totally worn out its welcome yet) and you figure out how to do all that with YOUR budget. We need to identify and approach all these issues, prioritize them and then come up with strategies on how to solve them. Not give a pep rally speech at an RNC with no real ideas or truths for that matter.
If we’re so great, how come we have a political arena with 2 diametrically opposed major parties, where theoretically someone will come out of either with some sense and knowledge and it just doesn’t work? Hasn’t for at least 20 years. Why are these the people we’re choosing to make us exceptional when they themselves have been so unexceptional?
Let’s take it upon ourselves to be exceptional. Because government isn’t doing shit. Be exceptional to each other, be exceptional to and for your family. Be exceptional at your job. Be exceptional at the thing you love to do so one day it will become your job if it isn’t already. Be exceptional to everyone you meet. Be an exceptional American so people don’t have reason to lump us into a group of fat, ignorant, blind-to-the-rest-of-the-world sports lunatics who think we’ve got it all figured out. We don’t. Be exceptional and know that. Be exceptional so the government can never take credit for America being the greatest country on Earth.
Because it never will be again, unless we are exceptional.