Excerpts from umair haque’s article Donald Trump, American Idiot: How Ignorance, Rage, and Fear Became the Ruling Principles of American Life
Consider, for a moment, the actions of the American President since the beginning of the pandemic.
- Denying there was one
- Passing an inadequate stimulus bill
- Obstructing any kind of national strategy
- Encouraging “lockdown liberation” protesters
- Cutting funding for the WHO
- And finally, telling people to…drink Lysol
That, my friends, will be remembered as one of the textbook examples of what it means to be an American idiot.
The world, you see, looks at America, and sees something very different than Americans do. It doesn’t just see a lunatic demagogue telling people to drink Lysol after cutting funding for the WHO. It sees a nation of people quicker to carry a gun than read a book, who’ll happily deny their neighbor’s kids healthcare but go to church every Sunday, who predictably, consistently vote against any improvement to their standards of living…which by now have reached standards that people in most of the rest of the world literally don’t believe, and neither do Americans.
American life is made up of a series of abuses and exploitations and degradations that shock the rest of the world — all of it, not just some of it. You’re a kid, and you go to school, where armed, masked men burst in, and fire fake bullets at you — “active shooter drills.” Maybe you go into “lunch debt.” When it’s time to go off to college — good luck, it’s going to cost as much as a home. Therefore, you can forget about every really owning much, because you’re trying to pay off a series of mounting debts your whole life long. By middle age, like most Americans, you’re simply unable to make ends meet — who can, when going to the hospital can cost more than a mansion? Therefore, forget retirement — it’s something that vanished long ago. Maybe you’re working at Walmart in your old age, maybe you’re driving an Uber — but you’re still where you always were, being exploited and abused for pennies, to make the ultra rich richer.
The American idiot, then, is a certain kind of person, who believes in a certain kind of quasi-philosophy. I say “quasi” because of course it doesn’t make sense when you actually think about it, but the whole point of this game is not to think very hard. That quasi-philosophy is just the above: greed is good, brutality is better, cruelty is excellent. I am in a contest to dominate and subjugate everyone else. Sure, I must play by the legal rules, perhaps — but the point is to exploit before I’m exploited, to prey on before I’m preyed on.