Friday, April 19, 2013

We're the Worst

A brief rant, consequent to the Senate's vote on the gun bill:

Drawing on their abiding ignorance of the rest of the world, Americans are always ready to believe that we're tops in everything. Now, I'm an American, so I think America is the greatest country in the world. The question is, could I convince someone who is not an American? That's not so easy.

Health? We're number 36 in life expectancy, even though we spend more than any other country (and have reduced disposable income as a result). Infrastructure? Number 23. Education? Number 17.

But what is more disturbing, it has occurred to me recently, is that among the industrialized democracies (a group in which I would not include Russia), the U.S. is probably the least democratic.

Just some questions, to which my answer is "not as far as I know":

  • Is there any other country where redistricting is done solely by partisan politicians?
  • Is there any other country where elections are supervised by partisan politicians?
  • Is there any other country where in one house of the legislature some citizens' votes count sixty times much as others?
  • Is there any other country where lobbyists play as prominent a role as they do here?
  • Is there any other country where some people have to stand in line for five or six hours to vote?
  • Is there any other country whose legislature is as paralyzed as ours, as obsessed with trivia, as lacking in actual debate?
We invented the idea of sovereignty of the people. Now we think we're still ahead of everyone else on democracy. We're not. We're behind. Maybe that's why we're behind in so many other things.

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