One intuits that Michael Kinsley had a lot of lunch money taken from him during his high school years. This election year the pundit is offering tough love to the American electorate, telling them – explicitly – that the US is not the greatest country ever.
It’s all a part of shattering the “myth” of American exceptionalism, that whole “city on a hill” thing that prevents a free people from remaining constant to the vision of “free” healthcare and class warfare Hope and Change® as embodied in President Obama’s historic election. This is all somehow tied up in fat-free chocolate cake, in Kinsely’s view. And ice cream.
This conceit that we’re the greatest country ever may be self-immolating. If people believe it’s true, they won’t do what’s necessary to make it true. The Brits, who suffer no such delusion (and who, in fact, cherish the national myth of being people who smile through adversity), have just accepted cuts in government spending that no American politician — even a tea bagger — would dream of proposing. Maybe these cuts are a mistake or badly timed, but when the British voted for “change,” they really got it.
“Making it true” in Kinsely’s eyes means that America should keep progressing in the direction of European socialism, despite the fact that 1) the European-style social welfare state is in retreat, and 2) Americans have never much wanted any.Which is one of the things that made us, you know: Exceptional.
It’s fair for progressives to get peeved and waspish (or more peeved and waspish) when the country rows back from the liberal abyss – they were so close! But also I think it’s fair for Kinsley, having baldly asserted his thesis, to at least try and prove it: If America is not the world’s greatest, Michael, which is?
And give me your lunch money.