Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crazy Americans

Thanks to the intermixed biennial pattern of both the Summer and Winter Olympics, every couple of years Americans are forced to stop our near-constant introspection, and take a look at the way the rest of the world perceives us.

This year, because that pause is happening right as the dog days of summer begin, we've also got some time to look take a wide look at America right now - and we can see why the world might think we're crazy.

Take, for example, the issue of gun control.

In America, we have one of the highest rates of gun-related deaths and accidents than almost anywhere else on the planet. Yet we're also the nation with the greatest number of guns per person on the planet. That said, states with more strict gun control laws actually have fewer deaths from gun-related violence. All of these are facts which would make any sane, logical person conclude, "If Americans want less gun-related deaths, then the logical action would be to enact stricter, more effective gun laws."

Yet every time another incident like the horror in Colorado occurs, some legislators will attempt to pass sensible, stricter, more effective gun regulations - and are most often turned down.

How about the issue of health care?

The Congressional Budget Office released its latest look at the Affordable Care Act yesterday. Their report confirmed that repealing the ACA - ObamaCare to its detractors - would actually increase the federal budget deficit by more than $100 billion in the next decade. Yet Republicans - who nominally say they care deeply about getting rid of budget deficits - continue to say they're going to try and get rid of the health care law any way they can.

Even the way some of our politicians campaign is in conflict with itself.

When President Obama spoke to the VFW this week, he didn't mention his opponent, not once in 33 minutes. He told the veterans what he'd done as our Commander in Chief, and what he's been doing for our troops once they get home. He was positive, strong, and resolute.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, condemned President Obama's approach to ending our nation's involvement in Afghanistan as a timeline. Then Romney promised he'd withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by 2014 if elected. Mr. Romney also told the VFW members that, "if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president. You have that president today."

Of course, that comment begged the question journalist Steve Benen asked later: If the title of 'strongest nation on Earth' no longer belongs to the U.S.A., who took it from us and when?

Don't even ask about Mitt Romney's job counting hypocrisy.

We understand that America is a large country, and - in general - our diverse views make us better, not weaker. That said, we also understand the confusion of others from around the world.

There are those of us who operate from the facts, and deal with the realities of the world. Then there are those Americans who let their emotions override what the hard data is telling them on virtually every decision they make.

If you're cheering for the U.S. in the Olympics this summer, and you find a foreigner staring at you askance, just remember - it's not like 'Smart American' or 'American Idiot' is tattooed on your forehead.

Maybe it should be.

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