Americans have not got there yet.

BBC Washington Correspondent Justin Webb is returning from the US to the UK after 7 years. We know exactly what he means. The hypocrisy is part of the possibility.

And yet for all the ugliness, the deadening tawdriness of much of the American landscape and the tinny feebleness of many of its politicians – for all that nastiness and shallowness and flakiness – there is no question in my mind that to live here has been the greatest privilege of my life.

The immensity of America, the energy and the zest for life, …. shines a light on the entire human condition.

There is an intellectual ugliness as well: a dark age lurking, even when the president has been to Harvard.

We really miss the US too, and nobody believed us when we said we weren’t leaving because we didn’t enjoy living there.

6 thoughts on “Americans have not got there yet.”

  1. And then there’s Canada …

    Much (but not all) of what the USA has going for it, without some (not all) of the tawdriness and gravitational-forces-pulling-towards-a-dark age one can find, see and feel in the USA.

    The several big cities are arguably as interesting as any in the USA, with the possible exception of NYNY, and we Canadians are a lot like Americans, but (vast generality alert) a wee bit more polite and friendly, don’t enjoy carrying guns quite as much, and don’t seem to want to go berserk over the incipient ‘socialism’ of single-payer health care (which we share with the Brits, and which the USA will likely never implement).

    I grew up in the USA, moved to Canada at the end of my adolescence (and have also lived in the UK for 4 years) … you couldn’t pay me to return to the USA.

  2. Hi Jon, I can believe that … but, I’ve only made 3 visits to Canada, never lived there longer than a week and never the cities.

    Still feel (perversely maybe) that the US remains an attractive place because it has so much going for it – made all the more obvious by some of the darker tawdry aspects – makes you (want to) appreciate and highlight the good all the more – save it from itself even ?

  3. I love optimists, and we need more of them, but I think that the USA is entering what will be a long period of instability and dissolution. The general level of education and awareness, useful for fighting off indoctrination by propaganda, is just not there on a widespread basis.

    Mix that together with a ferocious belief in American exceptionalism, and you have a heady and toxic brew at hand.

    As you can tell, I am not quite as hopeful as you.

    Don’t get me wrong .. I love Manhattan, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and grew up in a lovely area of Connecticut, and I know and appreciate many forthright and generous and open-minded Americans. But I do not want to and would not want to live there again … the grass is not greener, for me.

    Besides, I am old enough to worry about going broke if I ever got sicjk and had to go into the hospital, or some such.

  4. Hi Jon, this is not “optimism” you see.

    If I thought US degeneration was a problem limited by US borders, I might take your view too, but we live in a shrinking world. One of the reasons I picked-up on that quote from Justin Webb …

    “The immensity of America, the energy and the zest for life, …. shines a light on the entire human condition.”

    All human life is here (there).

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