There is no shortage of blog posts and online commentary about the US elections right now. Despite being dedicated to under reported news, today I’m going to add just a little more to this excessively covered, global concern.
There is this long tradition in the United States that during presidential elections, candidates constantly play the patriotic card and use variations of these slogans:
The US has the greatest workforce in the world.
The US is the greatest force for good in the world.
The US is the greatest country in the world.
Yet anyone who studies history or labor statistics will find plenty of evidence contrary to these statements. Actually you don’t even have to study anything, regardless of country, when you read those statements you should recognize they aren’t true. Yet election after election, the two mainstream ruling parties say these three over and over.
Watching speeches and debates between Obama and McCain or Biden and Palin, all of them make sure to spew these empty lines as if they’re trying to appease some segment of the audience that despite all logic and facts to the contrary, want to believe this is true.
Thankfully there are countries in the world were candidates don’t do this. Smaller countries, older countries that have weathered mass destruction and extreme poverty, they don’t bother repeating mantras about being the best and the greatest in the world. Even the Finnish national anthem is about being one nation among many great nations of the world.
I wonder if I will live to see a major candidate in the US that finally stops pandering to jingoism and a mass superiority complex. Besides being inaccurate, these types of statements help validate and continue destructive and failed policies and practices. I also hope this tradition doesn’t spread further in the world. Of course nationalism is not simply an American phenomenon and it isn’t going to disappear. But this rhetoric of we are the best, we are always right, everything we do is good; if a country is ever going to get better and a candidate make a real change, this practice will have to end.