Periscope Depth

sail on, sail on, o mighty ship of state

“Professor,” people often ask, “if you hate this country so much, why do you stay here?” Man, there’s just so much wrong with that question.

For one thing, I love America. I do! It’s great! America’s probably the best place in the world to be an American citizen. I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying it in Syria. The roads are in good repair, broadband connectivity remains high and the water’s potable. The cuisine’s diverse and there’s a good local music scene. Everybody takes their cues from us on what sort of movies to make. And if you don’t like the intellectual climate of your neighborhood, moving four hundred miles will produce a dramatic change. Doesn’t matter which direction.

For another thing, I can’t swallow the implied premise that disputing the policies of the Ruling Party means I don’t like the country they rule. If the conceit of democracy is true, then the governing agencies arise out of us organically. The State doesn’t dictate the national character; the national character designs the State. And if the conceit of democracy isn’t true, then we’re all screwed anyway so what’s the use in arguing?

Libertarians complain about how much the State intrudes into daily life. But what’s remarkable is how little it intrudes. Disputes over who was first in line, who gets a seat on the subway, who needs to update the meeting agenda, whether the dryness of your Meef Quesarito entitles you to a replacement meal or a coupon for a later date: your Senator has nothing to do with any of these. Yet how those disputes get resolved are one of the key differences between cultures. Try “forgetting” to update the agenda in a Kyoto corporate office, for instance. And those disputes have a greater impact on your day than, say, the decision to launch predator drone strikes in Kandahar.

So don’t take the (constant, shrill, uncompromising, tiresome) cynicism I heap on the Ruling Party to mean I’m unpatriotic. Many of this nation’s businesses stay open 24 hours and serve alcohol. What’s not to love?

Besides, any country that produces the following exchange needs to be kept intact for entertainment value alone:

Chairman of Opposition Party Claims War in Afghanistan Not Winnable

It was [the current President] who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.

Ruling Party Denounces Steele for ‘Rooting for Failure’

[T]he American people will be interested to hear that the leader of the Opposition Party thinks recent events related to the war are ‘comical’ and that he is betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan. It’s simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences.

What a country. God bless America. Enjoy the barbecue.