To hear one of our presidential candidates tell it, America is a crippled, blighted hellscape.
The way this candidate describes this country, its everyday reality makes the post-apocalyptic zombie-haunted world of “The Walking Dead” seem like an episode of “Mayberry R.F.D.” Our military is broken, China is laughing up the sleeves of their Gucci suits at us, and the very election system is rigged worse than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Tired of hearing from the “America Is Awful” crowd? Want to be reminded that America is still great? Well, there are some people out there who want you to know the high esteem in which they hold our great land.
Ironically, those people are Canadians.
It seems that a Canadian marketing company called “The Garden” decided that we here to the south needed a little cheering up.
“As their closest friends and neighbours,” they posted on their blog, “we thought it was important for us to do something to cut through the negativity and help remind them that no matter how bad things might seem, there are a lot of reasons to believe that America is still pretty great.”
To that end, they asked Canadians to submit short video clips to remind us what’s good about us. The results, gathered into a minute-and-a-half of video, are pretty amazing. I know these people have a reputation for being nice, but this takes nice to a whole new level.
“You invented the internet,” one lass reminds us. “Your National Park systems protect some of the most beautiful places on Earth,” one earnest looking young man chimes in. Yet another fellow reminds us of our giving nature: “Over $250 billion a year donated to charity.” And so on. “Warm.” “Open.” “Willing to fight to make things better.” It goes on and on like that. I swear, it made me tear up to watch it.
You know, it shouldn’t have to take Canadians to remind us that, while we do face some serious challenges both at home and abroad, there’s nothing wrong with America, as Bill Clinton once said, that can’t be cured by what’s right with America.
Sure, we’ve got problems: income inequality, pervasive racism (and the stubborn denial of some people to admit it exists), a recovery that’s not reaching all of our population, out-of-control health care costs, and the ever present threat of terrorism, both foreign and domestic. But you know what? We can beat those.
We are a country that never stops getting better. We started our national life with a shameful embrace of slavery. We got better, even though we had to go through five years of half the country trying to kill the other half.
For years we denied basic rights of citizenship to people based on the color of their skin. We got better, this time without a civil war. For years we denied other citizens fundamental rights based upon who they love. We got better, via the rule of law.
Oh, and along the way, we beat Hitler and the Japanese Empire at the same time. We cured polio. We invented communications satellites, air conditioning, cellphones, the personal computer, jazz, bluegrass, hip-hop, and rock ’n’ roll. Dear Lord, people, we went to the freakin’ moon, and now we’re setting our sights on Mars and beyond.
We’ve never stopped thinking, we’ve never stopped innovating, and most of all, we’ve never stopped making our society better, freer, and more humane. That’s because our Founding Fathers set up a system that, for all its sometimes frustrating inefficiency of outright foot-dragging, allows everyone’s voice to be heard and gives them a peaceful way to resolve their grievances — if they’ll just use it and not fall into the cynicism and despair that we see breeding violence and terrorism in other countries.
So, don’t wait for a Canadian to tell you America’s great (but if you see one, thank them and give them a hug). And the next time someone tries to tell you that America’s “crippled” and “broken,” that everything’s terrible and we need to throw out democracy and install some sort of Third World-style strongman to fix it — well, if you won’t listen to the words of President Emeritus Clinton above, listen to Mr. Chuck Berry (who, speaking of good things about America, announced on his 90th birthday that he’s cutting a new record): “I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the USA.”