According to promoters of American Exceptionalism, the United States has long been an outlier from other nations because of its freedom, economic opportunity, and national character of God-fearin’ tenacity.
I doubt that this has ever been true. But even it were, the America of 2022 is an outlier from other countries for very different reasons, such as our astronomical levels of gun violence. Also, when compared to other industrialized nations, we have far worse healthcare, more income inequality, less trust in our fellow citizens, less faith in democracy, and less social mobility—i.e., the “American Dream.”
So, yes, we are unique.
But it is not American Exceptionalism that makes us special. What makes “this country different from other countries, or from the rest of the developed world, in terms of morals or ideals,” is how America “treats its own citizens.” And that is with a “distinct absence of mercy.”
We would like to believe that this is not the stirring patriotic ideal that conservatives are referring to when they bellow that America is the greatest country in the world. But for them, maybe it is.
So we should ask a key question. Namely, who would actually prosper in a Republican-led society?
Of course, the uber-wealthy would do very well. But by their very definition, the super-rich compose just one percent of the American population and are already doing great.
The GOP leadership would also thrive, although their insatiable need for power would likely thrust them into a Sisyphean hell of constant longing.
But that’s about it.
Oh, we know those Americans feeling “economic anxiety” expect to become flush with cash in a conservative paradise. But a century of data, and the experience of the last few decades, show that the economy does worse under Republican leadership. So guys in trailer parks who think the GOP will rescue them would be in for a rude surprise.
Also, Christian theocrats would have a strong feeling of smug superiority if the government became an extension of their religion. But unless they are also rich Bible thumpers, well, their day-to-day lives are unlikely to change.
And that’s because Republicans don’t strive for anything that would actually benefit society. It’s all about consolidating political power and cutting taxes for the rich.
Is there even one person who will be better off because Roe has been overturned? Picture the woman who says, “I’m so grateful that I’m being forced to carry this baby. Thanks, GOP!”
No, that isn’t going to happen.
In contrast, Democratic policies such as Obamacare and student-debt cancellation, despite their shortcomings, have a huge impact on people. Progressive ideas of tolerance and inclusion have a very real effect on those who have been maligned and kicked around.
However, a white conservative terrified of critical race theory isn’t going to be any better off because his kid won’t learn about Ruby Bridges. American culture will not benefit because corporations can pollute more or because anyone with a grudge can buy an AR-15.
There is no GOP plan for America that focuses on improving the lives of most citizens or making this country a more prosperous nation. Conservatives do not even offer the facade of pretending that this will be the case under Republican rule.
There is only vanquishing the heathens and making the wealthy more powerful—that is their vision in its entirety.
And right now, that vision is slowly coming true.
Featured image by DonkeyHotey/CC BY 2.0