Is This Really What We Are?30 March, 2008
Today, I found a neat quote from Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson:
This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.
It was written in 1972 (part of his series of articles in Rolling Stone covering the ’72 election), so the population is wrong, but, other than that, it’s one of the best assessments I’ve ever read of modern America. We see ourselves as this wonderfully altruistic, peace-loving nation willing to help others. In reality, we are that self-centered used-car salesman who will say and do anything to get someone else to buy whatever it is we’re selling. And if they don’t, we want to do them bodily harm.
The problem here is that the United States of America is not an individual. We have the biggest economy on earth (though Georgie is trying to fix that), the most powerful military in the world, and we, collectively, are stuck in this used-car salesman point of view.
I can feel for this. I majored in history, and spent almost a year selling used cars (and new ones). Then I joined the Army (it was a step up). I was a car salesman, and I completely agree with Hunter’s thoughts. I remember wanting to hurt people who saw through my bullshit (I never did, but we all have fantasies, right?). If a customer made me uncomfortable, I harboured mean thoughts about him.
Bush is the ultimate used-car salesman. He got a minority of Americans (which SCOTUS said was a majority) to believe everything he said about his used car: it gets 50mpg; it comes with free money; if it goes over a cliff, just floor it and things will magically come out all right.
The Republican Party is selling the same used car (I think it is a Yugo (who’d of thunk that the country which brought us the Yugo would fall apart?)). Don’t buy it.