Why do we have to be important?

President George Bush is coming to Denmark tonight. The Danes all have something to say about this…there is live coverage on the media and everyone thinks it’s a very exciting event. Of course, no one likes George Bush, they are all just very excited becaues he’s so important, the most important man in the world, everyone says.

As a citizen of the USA in Denmark, I often have to take criticism about my countries policies. That’s ok. I don’t like the USA’s foreign policies, nor do I like George Bush. I think it’s expected that I don’t like Bush, yet I think Danes expect me, a north American, to be just a little in awe of him, and just a little proud that I am a citizen of the country whose president is the most important man in the world.

Let it be known, Danes and North Americans, that I am not proud of this. I think all this talk about security and democracy and saving the world from terrorism is so boring. If the USA suddenly became unimportant, I would in fact be happier.

I think the USA is an important place, but not because we rule the world. We are a great place because we are a post-colonial country, like the countries in South America. We have an ethnic mix of Europeans, Africans, Asians and Indians who all live and (sometimes) cooperate together instead of having constant racial and immigrant conflicts, as many European nations do. We are important because we have great music – blues, jazz, rock and roll. We are lively and humourous and relaxed people. Like the countries in Northern Europe, we have a good economy.

I wish the USA could follow the lead of and learn more from the countries in South America. Brazil, for example. We could be like them, just a nice place to visit with a low profile in international politics – great weather, music and mixed people. I think this is the key to the USA’s success. We should begin to look toward our neighbors in south America, see what we have in common with them, what we can learn from them, what we can teach them. Then we could start an “American Union” between North and South America. I would be proud to be part of this kind of a union. I’m sick of being part of a nation who stands alone and tries to rule the world.

come on, people!

Tonight I saw a news spot on Danish TV. As usual, the topic was Americans and the American election. Denmark has become a bit obsessed with Americans of late. The spot showed a conservative fat southern couple talking about why they believe religion should have more influence in politics. As they praised God and admonished democrats in the plainspoken way that only southern Christians can, they made their typical fatty southern dinner of sweet potatos loaded with butter, rolls, etc., saying things like “this go’ be good” as they cooked. Across the bottom of the screen rolled Danish translations of their viewpoints and enthusiastic eating. As I watched, I imagined the good Danish statsborgere sitting at home shaking their heads and thinking, “yes of course, this is the way americans are. Fat, conservative and religious. This is what we’ve always believed and it is true. Micheal Moore told us and so does TV2.”

The Danes get their stereotypes confirmed, so they can now happily line up with the American liberals (and with the rest of the world) to throw stones back at the American conservatives who will then throw stones back at the liberals, joining the fight from a safe distance, and thinking that they are superior when actually they are no less mean or brutal than the stone throwers themselves.

I don’t have much to say to non-Americans. I don’t think that their opinions are much more interesting than those of a thirsty mob watching a boxing match.

But I do sometimes wonder about us Americans. This election seems to be the most mean-spirited and divisive of any election I’ve seen in America. It’s like both sides have lost track of national pride and identity and are just trying to defeat each other. Sometimes when I look at the various maps of “Bush” and “Kerry” states it makes me think of the days before the civil war, when states banded together against each other and eventually split.

I think the questions that we hear on the news – Who can protect us against terrorism? When will the war in Iraq end? Was it wrong to start the war in the first place? Environment vs. development? – are not very interesting. These are just issues which come and go. The interesting question is – Aren’t we, divided so evenly and irreconcilably between liberal Kerry and conservative Bush supporters, forgetting something as we race towards the election – that we are all Americans? Has Osama bin Laden made us forget or have we done it to ourselves? What do we need to do to get unified again?

I think the answer to this last question is easy. After the election, no matter who wins, we need to start listening to each other and working together in a respectful way. We need to realize that America is not two different colors because it’s not. There are going to have to be compromises just as there always have been, and I think that there will. We are, after all, a democracy. Perhaps I am worried for nothing. Like I said, I’m on the outside looking in these days.