Is America the Best Country on Earth?
Many of you will probably assume this is an opportunity for me to point out America's shortcomings, but honestly I don't want to. Everyone talks about the American Dream™, but no one (except a minority of Europhiles) talks about the European dream. Is America really better than the rest of the world? I'm certain many people think so, both native and foreign, and there's also many who would disagree. From our public television, to our national health-care, there are many things left to be desired, in contrast to Europe. Yet. there are a lot of things genuinely and uniquely American which are better. I'm quite sure everyone has their own unique perspective on the question, Is America Better?, but I'll name a few:
America is better at:
1) Muscle Cars.
2) Comfort Foods and drinks. (Reese's Pieces, Doritos, & Doctor Pepper).
3) Large portions.
Okay, technically this isn't going so well. I could list: war, rednecks, religion, but those aren't positive examples. Let's see what the other people have to say. Shall we?
Politician Eric Cantro has stated:
Are we better than any[one] else because of the exceptional nature of who we are? Yes.
There's also (was) a Facebook page for those who wish to tell the world "America is better", to which I draw this excerpt:
Budweiser, fake tits, the V8, Little Debbies, the Fourth of July, all you can eat buffets, Viagra, yeah, America invented all that. Not enough for you? Tell you what, every other country that’s been to the moon raise your hand.Sarah Palin denies and supports American exceptionalism:
That’s what we thought.
But what do we mean when we say America is an exceptional country? We're not saying we're better than anyone else, or that we have a right to tell other people in other countries how to live their lives. When we say America is exceptional we're saying we are the lucky heirs to a unique set of beliefs and national qualities, and that we need to preserve those values and beliefs.Glenn Beck believes America's health-care is better:
Americans have a better survival rate for 13 of the 16 most common cancers than Europe. Take prostate cancer: 91.9 percent of men live through it, versus 73.7 percent in France and just 51.1 percent in Britain
Which makes me wonder if the belief in American exceptionalism, to be a conservative-right thing? Which is scary, because super patriotism and overt nationalism is a characteristic of totalitarianism. Of course there are some arguments to the contrary of America's superiority:
As T.R. Reid puts it in The United States of Europe, “Yes, Americans put up huge billboards reading ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ but they murder and rape their neighbors at rates that would shock any European nation.” cite
One is reminded [with America] of Oliver Goldsmith’s mordant reflections upon an earlier age of private greed and public indifference:
Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
Some people point to the fact we won the War of Independence (among many wars) and therefore are vastly superior, but I question if all this talk about America being the greatest country on Earth, isn't our way of trying to prove to ourselves what we want as fact but question as opinion. Are we insecure as a nation that we need self-gratitude?
But then oddly enough while searching for quotes and data on the subject I did run across several "Britain is Better than America" lists written by Brits, but only one attempt at a America is better than Britain list. Now I might argue that the reason for this is the disconnection or lack of understanding of Europe or Britain. In fact, one of bullet points commonly argued against America being better, is the fact many citizens don't have passports. I must say the America is better than Britain list does have some "compelling" content though, look at #6:
King Ralph. King Ralph was that movie starring John Goodman. It’s about an American who is a descendant of British royalty that is the heir to the Royal thrown after the entire Royal family is electrocuted during a family photo. Of course, conforming to British standards, King Ralph is a loudmouth, uncouth slob from America with no social boundaries or redeeming qualities. And of course, you guessed it, everybody in England is classy and sophisticated. They spend the entire movie trying to make John Goodman conform to British social standards. cite
I suppose I could go on, but the truth is, wouldn't the deciding factor of what country is better be determined by the citizens happiness? I live in a world called America, home of 24-hour drive-thrus, flat-screen TVs, and SUVs. It's heaven to many people, despite the fact that America is one of the least happiest places on earth. We're not even in the top 10. (We did beat the U.K., Belgium, and France) The question then becomes, if happiness doesn't qualify a country as better or exceptional, then do we really want to call ourselves "The best country on earth?".
I think, different places fit different people for different reasons. I think, this is also the reason for the culture war currently going on in America. Conservatives such as the Tea Party are challenging the ever-changing younger America who are demanding their happiness in place of the a dated image of what this country should be. It is a revolution which could decide exactly how much of the country is happy, and ultimately decide America's image as the best country in the world.