Home > Chips on Shoulders, Competition, History, Politics > Was America EVER great?

Was America EVER great?

Trump promises to return America to greatness. A marvellous political slogan simply because it means anything that blows yer dress up, as some say.

From a foreigner’s viewpoint it is easy to refute. The US of A has not been ‘great’ at so many of the features of national greatness. At home: social integration, social welfare, equal opportunies. Abroad: support for the UN, effective post-conflict management of war zones, consistent foreign policies.

Maybe global trade and finance tend to dictate policy more than we care to admit – so states wield less power than ever before. Ten food corporations dominate grocery marketing worldwide! Big Oil calls many shots too. Not to mention the pharmaceutical giants and the everpresent banks.

So greatness is a political pipe-dream – whatever Trump says.

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  1. November 8, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Enough with the Yanks. They are a generally mediocre lot who’ve had to import most things of merit. That which they did have that was actually interesting or worthwhile they attempted to destroy. It’s always relied on its size and the fact that Canada has too small a population to be a threat and that Mexico is too weak to challenge the Yanks. Were it not for an idiot Czar, Nikolai II, they wouldn’t even have had the chance to become the hyper-power they did. After all, the rise of the US had more to do with the decline of European empires after the First and Second World Wars.

    To be fair, when posed with the same challenges European states have not done better than the US. Hermetically-sealed Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in the UK, North Africans and Africans in France, Turks and no Arabs in Germany,Africans and Arabs in Sweden, Belgians in Belgium, etc. When our problems amount to a third of what the US faces our police forces are at a loss and our politicians are clueless. Social spending is also being cut drastically in Europe since there simply isn’t enough money for it and birth rates are too low for it to remain sustainable. As for the UN, it’s been increasingly worthless since the 1960s and now serves even less purpose than the League of Nations. It’s merely a plaything and junket for Third World cesspits. Think of the EU, but ruled by Saudis, Sudanese and North Koreans.

  2. November 8, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I lived and worked in Derbyshire for some years and recognised even then – during the ’80s and ’90s – that the sub-continental communities in Derby (and Nottingham) were akshully well integrated with the indigenous folk. The only separation was between Pakistanis and Indians! The local schools created equalities and friendships which overcame barriers raised by colour and culture.

  3. November 8, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Bangladeshis and Pakistanis don’t exactly get on, either. Interestingly enough, Hindu Bengalis from India and Muslim Bengalis from Bangladesh get on better with each other than Hindu Bengalis with non-Bengalis Hindus from elsewhere in India and Bangladeshi Muslims with Muslims from Pakistan. However, Banglas and Pakistanis do tend to be fairly insular. I don’t go as far as calling these areas “no-go zones” as revolting colonials are wont to doing, I felt safer in Tower Hamlets at night than I did in much of the US in daylight, but there are problems with integration and they’ve grown worse in the past 15 years.

  4. Four-eyed English Genius
    November 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Yes America was great, but it no longer is and it is even less likely to be so now, no matter which of the two walking disasters get the keys to the White House. What a choice for the American electorate to have to make, between a ranting buffoon or an incompetent, corrupt harridan!!

  5. November 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    FEEG, when was America great?

  6. Four-eyed English Genius
    November 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    J: What is your definition of “great”? Mine is powerful and influential
    .

  7. November 8, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Er….OK. Mine is responsible and successful.

  8. November 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Janus: Americans had puissance not no sense of responsibility. They had money, but no culture. The Yanks ceased being civilised in 1783.

  9. November 9, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Now to compound the felony, Trump is to be President. Look out Mexicans, muslims, illegals and the needy. There won’t be enough room in Canada.

  10. christinaosborne
    November 9, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Oh my God, Trump is the next president. 279, electoral votes in the bag,
    Oh, how embarrassing.

  11. November 9, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Be afraid, be very afraid! Or maybe…….a non-political, non-military chief can do it better.

  12. O Zangado
    November 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

    I woke up early this morning just before Trump won the remaining necessary states.. The sight of myriad metropolitan-liberal presenters on Sky and the BBC looking like they had been sucking lemons all night was an absolute joy to behold.

    Come to think of it, in the UK we have now seen the 2015 UK general election, the referendum vote on EU membership and now the Septic presidential elections in the space of eighteen months or so, the results of which the pundits and pollsters all got massively wrong and which royally pissed off the ‘we-know-best’ talking heads.

    Haaaahahahaha!

    OZ

  13. November 9, 2016 at 9:44 am

    OZ, I see the French right wing are taking heart from the Don. France is next, they say.

  14. Four-eyed English Genius
    November 9, 2016 at 10:52 am

    OZ: I am with you. It is great to see the liberal lefties crying in their quinoa!

  15. November 9, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    A Danish reporter resident in the USA for seven years explained today a big difference between the European and American mind-sets. The state here is regarded as having a social role, providing welfare and a safety-net for needy folk. Over there the state is the provider of opportunties and the rest is up to the individual, win or lose. This is useful piece in the Trump puzzle.

  16. Boadicea
    November 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I suspect, Christina, you would have said much the same had Clinton won!

    Given the choice between Trump and Clinton, I am with Oz and FEEG on this. It should be a wake up call to all self-satisfied politicians around the world that they should stop taking their electorates for granted.

    It is certainly going to be interesting – but I have the feeling that it just might be OK. After all, present policies don’t seem to be working – perhaps it is, indeed, time for a change.

  17. November 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Janus: There is a coherence to being a Dane, a Swede, a Dutchwoman/Dutchman, Frog and Pole that isn’t in being “American”. The greatest reason why the United States was a loose federation and remained a federalised country is because there has traditionally been more loyalty to one’s home-state than the union. Before the 1860s, there wasn’t anything save the most nebulous concept of even “being” American. In most respects the original intent was for the federal government to take on a similar role to the Danish Realm or the Realm of New Zealand. That is, foreign affairs, defence and coin but little else.

  18. November 9, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Boadicea: It was a choice between the devil and the deep, blue sea and the Americans chose to go swimming. In truth, the system is working precisely as it was designed to. People are able to release pent-up pressures and overturn the will of the elite without resorting to violence or bloodshed.

  19. November 9, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    If so, Christopher, the system has not been working as intended until today! The tight 2-party set up has deliberately precluded radical change, not encouraged mavericks.

  20. November 9, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Janus: The quality of leadership a country has is never consistent. Think of the past 50 years. How many truly good PMs has the UK had? In my lifetime Germany hasn’t had a single Bundeskanzler/in worthy of the name. Obama was a reaction by left-wing voters against machine politics. That he proved to be just as corrupt and dirty as a Clinton is a reality that has made many sour to him. Trump was openly denounced by his nominal party’s leadership and they fought him every step of the way. Yet, he still became the nominee and now is president-elect. The two-party system emerged early on and different parties have risen and fallen. To an extent they lend a stability of sorts to a political system that lacks the sophistication of Britain’s.

  21. christinaosborne
    November 9, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Yes Bo, I would have been aghast by either, both absolutely ghastly. I have very little against trump’s policies, its himself I object to, ghastly vulgar peasant. What will be interesting is the roll back of Obama’s policies. With all three estates being Republican, any moves will whistle thru. I do hope he does something fast about ragheads flooding in. You should see south Seattle, just about the new Horn of Africa! 68.000 wogs were given citizenship in King County (Seattle) last year alone!!!!! Told me by a bona fide immigration official during the renewal of my green card. Looked just like Luton-abad!
    Please God, Hilary retires from all public office, please, please, she’s had the nose in the trough long enough.

    Most people are exercised by getting poorer, paying for the UN, wogs, queers, LBGT lavatory issues and every day stupidity forced on them from inside the Beltway, another planet that has just had a rude reminder it still belongs to this world. Brexit on speed factor 10. Whoops and quite amusing.

  22. O Zangado
    November 10, 2016 at 8:46 am

    This morning there are reports of many unwashed persons, assorted liberal school leavers, lefties, twenty-somethings with a strong but misguided sense of entitlement and even the odious Michael Moore out on the streets of Murcan cities rejecting the election result.

    These are the sort of people who think democracy is just fine as long as the result concurs with their own personal opinions which must not be questioned at any time, ever, by anyone and the airing of which must be greeted promptly and dutifully with mute acquiescence and lots of ‘likes’ on their MySpotyTwatFace page.

    On the other hand, if the majority are misguided enough not to defer to the snowflake’s view then all those people are wrong and the result can safely be ignored with the people sent back whence they came to vote again (and again) until the ‘correct’ result is achieved, which, of course, is what democracy is all about these days, innit.

    Sound familiar?

    OZ

  23. Boadicea
    November 10, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Oz – you forgot to mention the reports of schools and unis offering counselling for those who can’t cope with the result…

    Dear me – whatever happened to “Get on With It”….

  24. November 10, 2016 at 11:06 am

    No back-bone, no stiff upper lip, no ‘keep calm and carry on’. Foreigners! 😎

  25. christinaosborne
    November 10, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    The indigenous ‘remainers’ are just the same!

  26. November 10, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Yes, led by Bliar, Clegg and the SNP.

  27. sheona
    November 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Boadicea, I saw those reports too. I’m sure Christina could set up some sort of “get a grip” group to insert some backbone. I don’t think Trump will be as bad as all that. He admits he played up to the meeja to get the publicity and the less able have believed everything the idiot journalists printed. Still, it’s taken the spotlight off Harry and the girlfriend.

  28. November 10, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Sheona, Trump will try to implement his mad ideas. The question is whether the machinery of gubmint will allow it. Meanwhile he will cause mayhem, just by talking.

  29. sheona
    November 10, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Don’t say that, Janus! I might need a “therapy dog”! Could Christina supply one?

  30. November 10, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Interestingly, among his first phone calls today were to ‘sensitive’ countries, inc. Israel, Egypt, Mexico and Turkey. Mad he may be, but stupid? Maybe not.

  31. November 10, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Janus: Presidents lack the authority to implement much of anything. They can cause trouble, but they cannot pass laws or fund anything without the approval of Congress.

  32. christinaosborne
    November 10, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I don’t think half of it will happen. All blether. Capitol hill going on as usual with initiation of transference of power.
    Disaffected snowflakes and wogs will riot for a few days until sane voices make it obvious to the low IQ that this is the way democracy works here.

    No, regrettably the wall won’t be built and the ragheads won’t be thrown out, but I suspect that the current laws will be implemented more vigorously and a damned sight less let in and thank God for that.
    Christ am I tired of wogs and LBGT perverts.

    Quite right, get a dog and get a backbone.

    Note, he will move into the White House although he said he wouldn’t. Equally he is not allowed to alter the decor of most of it, he can switch furniture within the warehouse of White House artifacts, but no gilded diamond studded crap. Most of the furniture is early Federalist, austere with magnificent lines, far too good for a peasant like him!!! I wonder how may of the staff, who are pretty black traditionally, will take to a Balkan stripper! Not for long I suspect! One to watch for entertainment.

  33. November 11, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Aye weel.

    For what it’s worth, Janus, I believe that the US of A was, is and will continue to be great.

    One of my courses at University was Comparative Constitutions. In the main, we studied the Fifth French Republic and the US Constitution. The FFR was interesting and I do see why they needed it, pragmatism-wise.Still a pile of bureaucratic obfuscation and trimming, in my opinion.

    Moving on, I will always know that we do these things better with our unwritten Constitution but I have to admit that I have a soft spot for the Second Continental Congress and their work. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation are mainly gems so far as I am concerned. Not so convinced about some of the Amendments, to be fair, but these things happen. The DoI and AoC are, to me, proof of a noble spirit of human endeavor that I think is still hanging about on the other side of the pond,

    And I also think that the system is bigger than the man. Checks and balances will kick in. I do worry a bit about his initial Cabinet appointments but the dross will probably sink very quickly. Congress will not give him free reign. His appointments to the Supreme Court will be intended to be conservative but the evidence is that Justices jump the party traces once confirmed – vide Earl Warren.

    In sum, I like America and Americans and wish them all the best for the next four years, A great country and a great people.

    Talking of Alex Salmond, did you know that he said that if DJT won the election he would move to Antarctica as it would be the last place that the nuclear radiation would reach? We’re counting the days and will all be on the quayside to wave him a fond farewell as he sails south.

  34. November 11, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Buggrit.

    Proof, if ever there was, that amendments are sometimes necessary.

    Fifth paragraph, Third line. ‘Rein’.

    Although ‘reign’ might, I suppose, work, given that some of the Founding Fathers were trying to build in the possibility of having a Monarch instead of a President.
    .

  35. November 11, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Very magnanimous, JM! The USA has strong judicial foundations ergo great. A narrow definition of greatness, imho.

  36. O Zangado
    November 11, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Not only am I waiting for Salmond to leave, but also all those frothing s’lebs who declaimed from the red carpet that they would do a flounce from Hollywood and Murca should Trump win. I suspect it was just that – froth, another hollow gesture because they never really thought he would win. The Learjets will remain parked close to the flashlights and the freebies. Overrated hypocrites all.

    I also see that the self-entitled assorted dross were stalking the streets of the Land of the Free again last night apparently unhappy with democracy when it fails to deliver the result they expect as of right. If the faux ‘outrage’ spreads to the UK, fire hoses and the return of conscription is all it needs to melt a few snowflakes.

    OZ

  37. November 11, 2016 at 10:39 am

    JM: You’re close. The Americans were developing an elected monarchy. The US became independent during the peak of the Enlightenment and before the French Revolution. They also lacked historical and legal baggage being a collection of settler-colonies and societies. There was strong support for George Washington to be made King, but he rejected it out of hand on the ground they fought to establish new and he didn’t want to go against the ideals that he and his soldiers fought and died for. He also set the precedent of stepping down after a second 4-year-term, something that was honoured until Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided that four goes were the minimum worthy of his greatness.

    The written constitution was a matter of legal necessity. It was the other edge of the sword of lacking legal and historical baggage. There was no constitutional settlement and there was precious little domestic jurisprudence. A new settlement had to be constructed and 14 sovereign states (Vermont refused to join with the other 13 unless a bill of rights was added) all demanded concessions. There is again talk of ending the Electoral College. The reason why it exists is that rural states with smaller populations were concerned that they would have no say when pitted against states with large urban centres. It seems archaic, but the original point still holds. Rural areas, when on the same page, can prevent a handful of cities from dominating the entire country all the time.

  38. Boadicea
    November 11, 2016 at 10:48 am

    The problem with ‘noble intentions’ is that when the system doesn’t even come close to fulfilling those intentions the disappointment to those who believe in them is huge. And it seems to me that that the US failed to meet those ‘noble’ sentiments from day 1 and has been failing ever since.

    “… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ Fine as long as you weren’t an indigenous American or a black fella and as for women, well let’s just forget about those.

    If America ever showed any humility for its failure to to meet its self-imposed ideals, or ever admitted that they have been totally immoral in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries I might have a little more respect for the country. But they haven’t and they don’t.

    Personally I think Trump might do well – he doesn’t seem to want to poke his nose in everybody else’s business. Most of today’s problems have been brought about by American arrogance that seems to think it must impose its standards on the rest of the world… and we all know it has been for economic reasons and nothing to do with ‘noble intentions’.

    Jolly good for Trump if he doesn’t want to go to war… perhaps the rest of us can start putting our money to useful causes instead of traipsing around the world to satisfy the Yanks demands that we join in all their enterprises.

    Please don’t bother to ask whether I would want a world dominated by Russia / China. I wouldn’t. I just wish America would get on and sort its own people’s problems before trying to solve everyone else’s – and let her ‘friends’ spend their money on solving their own problems..

  39. November 11, 2016 at 10:48 am

    PS: In general, conservative justices are needed as power quickly goes to the head and there is precious little that anyone can do to constrain an out-of-control judiciary save wait for the great inevitable and appoint new justices when the time comes. There is always a bit of ideology involved with decisions, but conservative justices generally are only harsh when it comes to social engineering and are prone on striking such laws down. Left-wing justices tend to practise social engineering con gusto.

  40. Boadicea
    November 11, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Christopher, as you are aware, our written constitution is also designed to stop the larger States dominating the smaller states. Very sensible idea!

  41. November 11, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Boadicea: Yes, the infamous “double majority” required to change the constitution. Sydney and Melbourne might have demographic and economic clout, but they can’t do much if rural states band together and tell them to get stuffed. The ones who do it best are the Canadians. You can’t effect constitutional changes unless all provinces are in agreement. As this is virtually impossible very little changes and no one even boffers.

  42. christinaosborne
    November 11, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    A couple of interesting details. All the dross that wanted to move to Canada, and crashed their immigration website, have been told not to bother by the Canadians, that they were not wanted! Damn! Lost the chance to get rid of the rubbish.

    I had CNN most of the day and Hilary Clinton was not mentioned once by any news source. Except the good old daily Mail who reported late afternoon that she had been seen with Bill, walking her dogs at her upstate NY home. Nothing like falling of a cliff to the media if you lose in the USA!

  43. November 11, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Until yesterday all we heard from Trump was scripted/edited sound bites and speeches. Was the Trump who met Obama the same man?

  44. christinaosborne
    November 11, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Quite! A totally unreal quality. Like some great timewarp in a sci fly pic!

  45. November 11, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    What I saw was a nervous debutant! No bombast, no aggression.

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