Barack Obama was the master of stirring rhetoric evoking our nation’s imperfect past rooted in a perfect ideal. Everything was always framed in a way to excuse our flaws as hiccups on the path toward “a more perfect union,” answerable to “the better angels of our nature.” Genocide against First Americans? Hundreds of years of chattel slavery? Jim Crow, Red Scare, the Iraq War… all anomalies. After all, here in America our founding gods, er, fathers, believed that all people (at the time they just referred to them as “men”) were created equal. We are the shining beacon of light on the hill, blah, blah, blah.
Countries are at their most dangerous when their empires are in decline. That’s when authoritarian leaders gain power, with rhetoric about the rest of the world not taking them seriously anymore. We are seeing the first sign of this alarming development now, with Trump fantasizing that the world is “laughing at us,” and that we have to assert our sovereignty. As US global influence diminishes, I fear that we are in for a sickening transformation of our nation into a a petty, belligerent, whiny country constantly looking for ways to assert its power for the sake of its own ego.
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