Real vs unreal Americans

By Bernd Debusmann
October 29, 2008

– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. —

By Bernd Debusmann

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – What is a real American? As opposed to an unreal American, a fake American, an un-American American or an anti-American American.

The answer is in the eye of the beholder and his or her political orientation. The question, and variations of it, has been asked in several periods of U.S. history and has bubbled up again, one of a number of odd sideshows, in the closing stages of the campaign for the presidential election on Nov. 4.

Are real Americans a minority in this richly diverse country of 300 million? You might well come to that conclusion if you believe the definitions publicly provided by several Republicans, including Sarah Palin, the vice presidential candidate, and conservative radio and TV talk show hosts.

“We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit and these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation,” Palin told a campaign rally in North Carolina in mid-October.

John McCain, the Republican candidate, has also sung the praise of small town (real) America. “Western Pennsylvania … is the most patriotic, most God-loving part of America,” he said at a rally there.

A belief in God, judging from speeches by both McCain and his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is an essential part of American-ness.

realamerica_oct28-w-21
Robin Hayes, a Republican congressman from North Carolina, provided details on Americans who do not qualify as real. “Liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.” Both Palin and Hayes later “clarified” their remarks to say they had not actually meant to suggest the existence of pro- and anti-American parts of the country. Nevertheless, their words prompted a vivid debate in cyberspace and on talk radio.

REAL AMERICANS AND EUROPE

It quickly went beyond geography and into political beliefs. “Is it possible to be a real American and to be a socialist?” radio talk show host Chris Plante asked his listeners in the Washington area. “Can you still be a real American if you believe that the regimes that govern in Western Europe are a better way forward than the system that we have here?” Callers reassured him that no, that was not possible.

How much influence conservative talk radio has will be apparent on election day. The Rush Limbaugh Show alone claims 12 million daily listeners and other conservative talking heads, such as Sean Hannity, also pull in huge audiences. But listening to them, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that they are preaching to the converted and their shows function as big echo chambers.

As the real vs unreal Americans debate unfolded over a few days – teacup storms have been relatively short in this election — another Republican member of Congress, Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, poured fuel on the argument. She suggested in a television interview that the U.S. media should “take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.”

That conjured up the ghost of Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who was helped in his hunt for hidden communists in the 1950s by a congressional investigative body called the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Sorting the populace into good people and not-so-good (or downright bad and dangerous) people is nothing new in an election campaign – the not-so-good people are always those of the other party. Seen in historical context, today’s good vs bad rankings are tame, as are negative advertisements.

When John Quincy Adams ran for re-election in 1828, for example, he called his opponent Andrew Jackson a cannibal and a murderer and he had unkind words for Jackson’s followers. The charge didn’t help. Adams lost.

In the 2008 campaign, attempts to portray one set of Americans (those living in rural areas and small towns) as more American than their big-city compatriots run counter to demographics. Nostalgia for a country that no longer exists?

According to the 2000 census – the counts are taken every 10 years – America’s big cities and their suburbs are home to 192 million people. That compares with just under 60 million in rural areas overall and 30 million in towns of fewer than 50,000 people.

A community of 50,000 people is large in comparison with Wasilla, the Alaskan town that had 5,000 people when Sarah Palin became its mayor in 1996. It has since grown to close to 10,000 – still small enough to fit the latest definition of real America.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)

89 comments

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I can’t believe that Americans are having a debate on who is “real” or not! I wholeheartedly agree with the commenters who ask about immigrants, etc. As a U.S. native, I was raised to believe that anyone who was born in the U.S. or became a citizen was an American. There was also a time not too long ago when our nation welcomed anyone who wanted to live in states as an Americam-to-be (I’m talking about the ’80s and ’90s, by the way). What a sad day it is when we’re questioned and defined as real or unreal, patriotic or unpatriotic for the sake of politics. Do politicians stop and think how hurtful it is that they want to govern all of us but only really care about some of us? That’s what it’s been like under that Bush guy, if you’re not a republican and cheerleader for the Iraq war. Americans used to be able to disagree and have all kinds of various ideas, until only one type of ideology became the norm. We’ve lost our identity as Americans, and it must be quite perplexing to citizens of other countries who don’t seem to have this problem. I don’t often read about real or unreal Canadians or Russians or Brits; we’ve become a disjointed bunch who’s lost our standing in the world. Here’s to hoping that some type of dignity can be restored when this election is over and done.

Posted by C. Fay | Report as abusive

For The King – you should try living in a country with socialist rule, you’ll soon realize that what some people claim to be the “human rights” of others conflict directly with your rights to own property and create wealth. In a socialist country, those without look to those who have and think it should be theirs, no matter how the one who has it got it. It is un-American to stick your hand out and expect everything to be given to you. After many generations of socialism, people believe that it is their right is to be provided for and do not accept that personal sacrifice and hard work are often needed to get what one wants and needs. Redistribution of wealth is also anti-American. Would you have the US go through an agrarian reformatory program where the land is taken from the wealthy and given to the poor? Ag reform is a quite common policy of socialist governments and I challenge you to give me an example of when and where it has worked. Of course I am not claiming that Obama would support such a thing, but we’re talking about Socialism here. Obama says he’s not a Socialist, but it’s very clear that he has quite the disdain for wealthy people; except those multi-millionaire actors and artists that have given him so much money for his campaign. There’s nothing wrong with creating wealth, it comes straight from the essence of being human – to create, innovate, hell, to try to be better than the next guy, be it in a spelling contest in school, to beating the other team in basketball, and yes, to being better than your colleague and getting that promotion instead of him. Competition is real American, and Socialism quells competition, because hey, what’s mine is yours. Socialism hammers down that nail that sticks up and tries to be different. The good of the majority tends to curtail the desire of everyone. As an American who has lived outside the country now for nearly 15 years, from southern France, to Scotland, Spain and now Chile, traveling for months at a time to Russia, Central and South America and to the Middle East (if only Egypt), I have seen all types of government and I can tell you that Socialism is far from being the real “American Way”. No-one can argue that it’s not anyone’s fault when they get sick, and that the poor were, in most cases, born into it, but better than any country in the world so far, America provides the opportunity for those people to move up and out of poverty through their own hard work. I grew up on a farm in southwest Idaho, paid for my own university education, and then postgraduate education, worked for multinational companies and now am a partner in my own company. I mailed in my vote for McCain three weeks ago and am still glad I did not vote for Obama. I can understand why people don’t want another George W. Bush, and I voted for Kerry for that very reason. I can see that the US needs change, and I can’t stand the religious right and their self-serving belief that their morals are the only ones with any virtue and I have been disappointed with McCain’s campaign and how he has bowed to the neo conservatives, becoming someone that I don’t recognize from the real McCain, but I can see through Obama’s rhetoric from thousands of miles away down here in the far corner of the Earth. He is a master at saying what the crowds want to hear, and right now the US is in such a state that a crowd mentality has taken over. Obama has spent his entire political career campaigning for something, and very little actually doing anything, his short 3 years in the Senate speak for themselves. John McCain’s 25 in the Senate also speak for themselves, and whether or not he’s more of a real American than Obama or vice versa makes no difference to me. Do I consider myself a real American? Who cares? Unfortunately, Mr. Castle’s comments are probably the ones that we, at least I, will be remembering and can only hope, as I believe he does, that the lessons from a failed Obama presidency, made possible by a Democratic led Congress in both houses, will not be forgotten.

Posted by Dennis Korte | Report as abusive

Potential Carnie: Good for you to note the satire. I was getting a little worried…

Posted by Jack Serkoff | Report as abusive

I am disappointed by the many recent fanatical descriptions of “socialism”. It is hilarious that the term raises such fear in some Americans (especially “real Americans”). These people mistake bad policy for socialism and have difficulty distinguishing the different degrees of ideology. No European state is “socialist” (Merriam-Webster: “governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; a system of society or group living in which there is no private property”). Moreover, the USA is not entirely capitalist or free-market. Alas, “real” Americans may never see how, in many ways, America is far behind the advances of “Old Europe”. By objective analysis, the world’s oldest democracy is falling behind newer “socialist” democracies. In an attempt to catch up with the educational and health benefits that these other democracies offer their citizens, the “real American” Republican candidate himself recommends billions of dollars of government intervention into private enterprise and stimulus in the form of research grants for specific initiatives that he deems important.

It appears that “conservatives” and Republicans, just like Democrats, strongly support socialism when they benefit from it, but unlike “liberals” they lambast it whenever it aids someone else. Such hypocritical behavior, then, is not surprising after witnessing the Republican party scaring the populace of “one-party rule” in 2008 while spending the entire 2004 campaign convincing people how much more efficient government would be if it controlled both legislature and executive.

As an independent (a “real North American”?), I feel that collaboration between public and private interests is inevitable and natural. Modern civilization will ALWAYS be partially “socialist”, because there are some things that private enterprise simply cannot do well. Remember, those live in the UNITED States of America, that you UNITED to accomplish something that no one could accomplish alone. Now greed has cleaved the country in two parts. Healing the strife will not occur by pasting fear-inciting labels, but by the elimination of waste wherever it exists and regulating the nation’s affairs for the long-term health and stability of all, not for the quick buck this fiscal quarter. Shamefully, “free market” advocates appear largely ignorant of the bureaucratic inefficiencies of corporate market control – often in the form of poorly regulated duopoly. Apparently freedom of choice between A or B meets their requirement for efficient competitive market operation. I propose that healthy markets are ones in which efficient regulation maintains a level playing field for all market participants over the long term, high efficiency lowers the barriers to customer and competitor market access, and the consumer has multiple choices. This indeed requires competent government to ensure that resources are not squandered by the highest bidder, but rather used in a sustainable manner for the maximum benefit of all stakeholders. This is not socialism, this is long-term planning. One prime example of hypocrisy on the part of the Neo-Con/Republican/Maverick party is the illogical support for nuclear powerplants. The reason that one hasn’t been built in the USA for decades is because a business case can’t be made without the help of government funding. The current nuclear plants that exist can’t even afford to protect their spent fuel without federal aid. Do “real Americans” support socialism if it means “energy independence”?

“Redistribution”, thanks to Mr. Wurzelbacher, is now a hot-button issue. Sadly, extremists like him miss the point. Unjust, unethical, or immoral profits should ALWAYS be recaptured and returned or redistributed. That is justice. This is not to say that all billionaires are thieves, however, regulation and tax policy should create equal opportunity, not allow handouts for the well-connected. No one is proposing American adopt unfair or unethical policies of redistribution (as in Zimbabwe, for example). Most employees recognize that an entitlement-mentality is a morally shameful condition that affects lazy people (in my experience, just as many in the USA as anywhere else). No one objected to the re-distribution of Saddam Hussein’s wealth. Would any “real American” object to redistributing Kim Jung Il’s wealth? Likewise, all wealth that “free market capitalists” have garnered by lobbyist intervention, market manipulation, and loophole-creating tricks is also unethically gained and, yes, should be redistributed. To do so will take a massive sweep of corrupt legislators, Senator Stevens being only the tip of the iceberg. Dramatically revised legislation should streamline regulation and government operation, not eliminate it via hatchet as both Bush and McCain have advocated. Legislation should not be vehicles for earmarked pork and handouts slipped in after midnight, often by those who proudly campaign on a small-government platform. Call me “socialist” or “liberal” or “an unreal American” if you so desire, but I believe that special interests and corporate entities should not be allowed to directly write legislation, fund candidates’ campaigns, and dominate city councils. I believe that government waste is largely due to special interest’s grip of the election system and the two major political parties. What American needs is not more “real” Americans, it is to reform itself into a more pure democracy where the ideas of collaboration are not squelched by one of two self-interested parties funded by pork-hungry special interests.

If only Teddy and the Bull Moose party were here today…

Posted by Jean | Report as abusive

@JF Chalmers:
“…it is the sinister embryonic beginnings of something akin to Kristalnacht in 1938 Germany.”

Ohh, the drama, my man, Theeee drama! I think you can count on it being far, far from Naziism. You are very, very DRAMATIC though. Good stuff!

Posted by Jon O | Report as abusive

Here is the problem I have with government, beyond their job of providing security for the nation and being a watchdog over the money managers, and securing our boarders, what I look for is what is government not going to do to me, versus, what is government going to do for me. Too much of the nation has been led down the path to believing they are entitled. They vote for anyone that says they will give them more.

We have a governmental body of legislators on both sides that are more interested in their power base than they are in actually accomplishing the good that they can do for the nation.

As a nation, unfortunately, we get what we have become. Like a swamp we attract what we have become (the bugs in the swamp) versus the swamp being there because of the bugs. Congress is a reflection of who we are. We are not a result of congress. A great majority should be cleaned out and start over with people that have a passion for a great nation, versus a passion for their position in life.

Our family has been in the position of being eligible for unemployment and food stamps and I suppose other hand outs the government might give out. It never crossed our minds to put our hand out.

Our personal condition was tough through no fault of our own. We did not look to someone else or the government to bail us out. We did it on our own. Yes we ate a few meals at other people’s homes that knew of our condition. We in turn have helped others.

I came from a family with little education. I worked my way through college over 15 year period. I have worked hard. I have gone into debt to develop a concept and idea to teach America to become better fiscally responsible. I am now 100% debt free. I am about ready to realize a dream of building and helping others. I do not want a government that wants to redistribute my wealth after 40 years of hard work. If I can do it, so can others.

We have our own program of giving. Let me give and target who I want to receive our funds. Let others take on their own responsibility to develop their skills. We need to get government as far out of our lives as possible.

I am disheartened to see how accepting the nation is becoming of redistribution. Everyone, I mean, everyone should pay their fair share, but not more than their fair share. That goes all the way from the bottom to the top.

I would guess the millions that have been receiving from government don’t want to give it up and want more. Our education departments in our major colleges and even on down through the school system are teaching these concepts early in order to win over the ideology that what someone else has earned really belongs to them. That concept has to be a sick concept and should not exist as part of our culture.

Instead teach that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and you become accountable to yourself and your community. That is the real drive behind the success of America. Why change it?

On November 4th, Sarah Palin, Robin Hayes, FOX ‘News’, and the talk radio bloviator cadre will likely discover that they are not the only ‘Real Americans’!

Posted by Jon Hall | Report as abusive

Sure, on one level it’s arbitrary, but in terms of real attitudes it does matter.

I’ve developed a simple test to determine where a person’s real loyalties lie – most Liberals fail this test because there are no consequences for claiming to be pro-American while being anti-American.

If you believe you have a right, or duty to criticize the United States yet fail to tolerate criticism of your preferred identity then you are not really pro-American, in fact that you criticize not out of love but of intolerance suggest that you are anti-American.

Posted by Aaron Truitt | Report as abusive

Jean,

If you love socialism so much, please move to Europe or Cuba or Scandnavia! You are an unreal American. This nation was funded on the principles of freedom! Freedom of association, freeodom of religion, freedom of the press AND THE FREEDOM TO PURSUE HAPPINESS! Success comes by working hard, and it’s NOT a right. If you don’t try you don’t succeed. If you’re unable to try because of some disability, then it’s up to CHARITABLE organizations to help you, NOT the government. The kind of “cooperation” between the public and private sector that you praise is what has gotten us into the financial mess we’re in right now. FANNY MAE?!?

Think about it!

Posted by tdog | Report as abusive

tdog

A few guys in Wisconsin once told me that America was the greatest country in the world. When I asked them what countries they’d been to, they stared at me blankly. When I asked them what other states they’d been to, they said Minnesota. 2 states in one country in the whole world and these well educated guys were presumptive enough to insist that America was the greatest country in the world, and that they would tolerate no debate.

tdog, have you ever been to Cuba, Europe or Scandinavia? tdog have you ever read or watched any type of informative international media?? Because I am absolutely shocked that somebody who is intelligent enough to spell “Reuters” in order to get to this website can throw out those regions and socialist in the same breath. Firstly Cuba is a communist regime, I’m going to assume you are aware of the difference. Secondly Scandinavia is part of Europe the cotenant and all but Norway are part of the E.U, but it is part of the European Economic Area. Thirdly, the E.U is composed of 27 independent sovereign countries. Each country has it own political system according to the wishes of its electorate.
It’s astounding how many people on this thread have inferred that, one, Europe is entirely socialist and two, that there are socialist states in Europe. Tdog goes as far to juxtapose Europe and Cuba. EUROPE and CUBA!!!!!!

Stubbornly idiotic ideologies like that are much of the reason that much of the world are aware of the growing level of cynicism directed at the united states. The U.S is the most advanced, the richest, most diverse country in the world, a beautiful country I love living in but it is also the country who places the greatest emphasis on the rights of the individual as opposed to their responsibilities at the expense of the majority. It is in my eyes a staggering behemoth, that resists change or flexibility.

Many Americans feel they are required to patronisingly demean everyone else for a reason I struggle to get my head around, as if the countries with thousands of years of history and civilisation have nothing to teach the relative novice. How about directing some of that cynicism inwards at a country that claims to be the most democratic in the world yet every vote is not equal, a majority vote does not mean governance, and a country of 300 MILLION people ruled by just 2 parties!!!just 2!so everyone has to subscribe to either one black or white ideology or the other? The most diverse country in the world provides only two political philosophies? Is it socialist that in Europe they have representation from far more groups? I don’t see European posters insisting they’re right at the expense of American ideas.

You can’t really think tdog that extreme free market behaviour can provide a functioning society? It would mean the collapse of the nation state and all its synergy and personality, the rise of the individual , the prioritising of the here and now instead of development for future generations. Surely you see the need for balance? A flexible balance that would change from country to country and from time to time to suit the requirements of the day and provide for current and future generations? Anybody who’s good at anything realises the importance of balance and adaptability. Or is it socialist to provide for the future generations of your country? If the free market reigned supreme, it would be irrelevant as to who or what the characteristics of a “real” or “unreal “ American were because there would be no loyalty to your country or its future. Your loyalty would be to yourself in your most current state, the complete collapse of personal responsibility, self sacrifice (this coming from a trader) and most importantly from the clichéd Americana perspective, patriotism.

To reitterate the point I made earlier- there are no socialist countries in Europe, and comparing Europe and cuba is so ridiculous tdog should feel obliged to clarify and justify his point

Posted by JD | Report as abusive

tdog

trying to blaim the collapse of fannie mae on a political ideology at this point is completely unfounded and without basis. Its intriguing though, that you think you figured out the root cause(and by inference the cure) of a global financial collapse that the majority of people would have thought would have taken many years to unravel. ( many of the MBS products alone have term structures not maturing for the next 10 years).

Posted by JD | Report as abusive

First to Mr. Serkoff – I was worried that perhaps I had read in the satire incorrectly, when so many comments seemed to take your words at face value. I scrolled back up to read at least twice, saying to myself, “Surely, he was being sarcastic (or satirical)…” and getting alarmed that my radar was off when so many responses clearly took you literally. I’m glad that my radar isn’t broken.

Many people do not seem to be able to understand the differences between socialism, communimism, and -frighteningly – fascism. They are getting tossed into the same pot with the heat slowly rising until one can use any of them interchangably to engender equal amounts of alarm.

Medicare is a “socialist” program. So is social security. Any one want to give those up? So is Medicaid. So is public education. Should we take those of the list? I suppose when painted with the broadest brush, the fact that I can rely on a funded, trained, equipped military to keep me safe so I don’t have to keep a loaded rifle under my bed could be lumped in there too. I pay taxes for those services, I expect them to benefit me. Oh, and I want libraries too. And I don’t want to have to go buy gravel to fill in the potholes in my roads. Could someone…some agency perhaps…pool my money with other peoples’ money to take care of the roads so that I can drive to work without damage to my car or my back?

There was also a decision some time back in legislation that certain services were life-sustaining and public health sustaining and should be free from possible corruptive influences that can accompany the free-market. Because someone who just might have a little too little integrity might want to take advantage of what people will pay for a life-sustaining product (like water, perhaps, or electricity.) And lo and behold, when the California Legislature de-regulated the energy industry, California got held hostage by energy companies who knew that Californians (being a tech-dependent state that exists mostly in a desert) would pay whatever they needed to pay to live and work.

And perhaps health care is one of those products now too. Am I “entitled” to want to be free from disease and injury? Am I a “socialist” for thinking that my health should NOT be a for-profit opportunity? Am I un-American for being frustrated that my health premiums are going up at a rate many, many times that of inflation while I have to simultaneously worried that some critical service for myself or my children might not be covered?

Intriguingly, the top companies of the country are often successful because the LOOK at other successful companies, figure out what they’re doing right, and then emulate them. It’s a very successful business strategy. And we applaud business success. But the suggestion that we should look at other countries and see what they’re doing right and try to emulate them is somehow unpatriotic. This is ridiculous.

The most patriotic thing I can think of is looking at the country you love and call home and think to yourself, “What would make us even better?” Who’s doing it right? Who’s doing it wrong? Who made bad choices, who broke their promises? What is doing us harm, what will make us strong? Blind allegiance is dangerous, commitment without introspection and analysis is too.

Down that road lies fascism. Far, far scarier that socialism.

Posted by loreleiO | Report as abusive

In response to Jack Serkoff’s comment. You’re either the most ignorant person to have posted a comment thus far (don’t worry you’re in good company) or your particular style of sarcasm is much too subtle.

To suggest that any immigrant seeking citizenship in the U.S. should somehow be tested (or perhaps you would suggest tortured) to ensure that they hold the same intolerant/xenophobic/close-minded ultra-conservative ideas that you seem cursed with is frighteningly incomprehensible.

Are you sure you understand or genuinely believe in democracy?

Posted by Colin MacArthur | Report as abusive

I have been to the UK several times in the past decade, my last trip in March 2008. The handful of people I became acquainted with from a nearby pub had strong opinions on their economy & socialized medicine – none of it good or optimistic. Blue collar, white collar, former military- most of them spoke like they have no chance of a better life. Nice bunch of people, and I felt really bad for them. In 2005 I had the pleasure of witnessing a political demonstration in London protesting the 35 hour work week- as in they argued it is too many hours to work & should be lowered to 30. I thought “what a bunch of wussies!” From what I saw, this is what being raised in a socialist system does to young minds & spirits.

I’ve done my time as a low income American. I’ve been uninsured, worked 2 jobs to make ends meet & endured my husband’s layoff and the BS of economic policies like the marriage tax penalty. Now at age 38, my family has a home in a decent neighborhood with good schools and we have a good health care plan. This is due to working hard, living within our means, and aiming to make our lives better. Hell no do I want my kids thinking it’s OK to wallow in failure and not try for success because the government will take care of them! Hard working innovative people are what makes the US strong. Change for the good of this country will not be found in the empty promises of politicians, but in our own communities, from neighbor to neighbor. Nobody running for pres. can fix our schools, because it has to start with parents who value education and instill it in their kids. And think again if government controlled health care will make it better- all that will happen is the costs will go up & everything will take an extra 6 months to process. Government is not efficient. I don’t like either Obama or McCain, but “redistributing the wealth” is a very, very slippery slope.

I also want to say that as a stay-at-home mom on a shoestring budget, I’m really going to miss the Bush tax cuts that will expire under Obama in 2010. Anybody else with me on that one?

Posted by Christy | Report as abusive

Interesting question. IMHO, the only real Americans are Native Americans. Every body else is an immigrant, or descended from immigrants.

When Republicans wonder why they have done so poorly this election cycle it is precisely because of questions like this. Don’t question the patriotism of your fellow Americans because we don’t agree with the illegal acts of the Bush administration. Don’t question the patriotism of those Americans who want all of the volk to succeed, have affordable mortgages, and affordable health care.

Those that don’t want that are probably more un-American than the rest, as they put their own success and profit before that of the volk.

The real Americans will show themselves on November 4th and show their power at the ballots. From delusion to reality is a short shrift.

What worries me most about the non-American rhetoric is that it may continue roiling during Obama’s term should he be elected. The implication of that may move beyond typical politics.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Hmmm! As an ex-pat. Aussie living through this hellish election season, may I give you my perspective? OK Thanks.
So here is how I see it from my Northern California home. 50% of Americans are really fabulous, hard working, neighborly, mind their own business kind of great people.

The others – born-again whacko’s who don’t believe that the rest of us Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or heathens have a right to vote! Serious bunch of kooks who IMHO still revel in the thought of the KKK. Oh and did I mention the word ORDINARY – these folk would like an ORDINARY person to become President – phew!

I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want an ORDINARY pilot flying my plane, nor and ORDINARY surgeon waving a scalpel over my son’s belly, nor do I want and ORDINARY person in charge of that big red button.

Posted by Karen Cunningham | Report as abusive

To the Europeans who pain to see greatness and leadership from America again: Thank you.

To my fellow Americans who think that people who hate those who disagree with you: I pray for you.

I’ve never seen any chapter or verse in Mark, Matthew, Luke or John where Jesus says “welcome Hatred into your heart and make room for it to live there.”

I was a morose, wounded dog back when the Supreme Court selected Bush. I was 100% behind him after 9/11. I broke back when the fraud of WMD became smelly.

BTW, does anyone remember that Bush promised to bring integrity back to the presidency? What would prefer – Bill Clinton – a competent, pragmatic President who got cheated on his wife, -OR-, the skin deep tool who trashed the country?

Tomorrow, my vote goes for Obama because he is articulate and an effective at running a crisp campaign.

Ideally, he will also be pragmatic and continue his shift to the center!!!

Posted by SonOfHistoryProf | Report as abusive

I’m an unreal America, by the Republican definition. Too bad, then, that I pay very real US taxes and social security. If only there was an exemption for us unreal Americans. Or is it only “real” Americans who should pay lower taxes?

Either way, I’m not about to find out. The Republicans will never get a vote from me in my lifetime if they continue to spout this exclusionist neo-Nazi nonsense.

Posted by D Nicol | Report as abusive

loreleiO,

Thanks for your post (and a few others above yours in one way or another, as well) – I’m time pressed but the level of inner angst in me rises whenever I read the remarks from such blindly self-righteous people as a few of the posters here, and so many elsewhere.

Yes – for some time I have been asking what is so wrong with considering how somethings are done in other countries and then in the spirit of ‘Great America’ tuning the concept to our better advantage.

People seem to forget – or by failing their own educations – are ignorant of the fact that we did not invent democracy, for example. They fail to acknowledge that our form of government is a refinement of philosophies that had origins not only in ancient times in Europe but that many ideas were actually borrowed from some of the original Native Americans.

We hear the narrow thinking scream about the taxes that Europeans pay for such things as health care – yet they won’t admit that the 12k plus that the average family coverage costs an employer (before one’s deductibles and employee charges) is in fact a tax. Never mind that they might get more pay from the unburdened employer that does not have to shoulder that horrific expense… Never mind that the ambitious small entrepreneur might be able to attract good talent if they were able to compete in the realm of health care benefits.

Such is the god-awful thinking of so many small minded Americans. Speaking of god-awful, it is literally quite god-awful the role to which religiosity has ascended to in our national discourse. Those who claim that this country was founded on a religious premise are so mis-informed I nearly puke to consider how ignorant so many are. Fact is – the country was largely founded by those who determined that religious influence on matters of government was particularly abhorrent – not the other way around.

All of the above are in fact – testament to the failures of past parents to actively engage in their offspring’s education and an unwillingness to believe the facts that they were reading.

One of the above posters even asserts that Jefferson wrote the Constitution, when in fact, Jefferson was not even in the country (he was an Ambassador overseas) while the Constitution was being penned. His influence depended on the degree to which James Madison and others he wrote to would carry his thinking into the document. Fortunately his good friend Madison honored his arguments to a reasonable degree. Indeed when someone says ‘Father of the Constitution’ (though it was by convention) they are saying ‘James Madison’ who was considered the single greatest influence on that marvelous document.

I wonder, when one of these narrow minded Americans is faced with a burning home, how they would feel if their neighbors merely offered to loan them their garden hoses and buckets, fire departments being the apparatus of evil socialists – you know.

Posted by tpartier | Report as abusive

Growing up I spent half my life in large cities and the other half in small rural communities. When I had the chance I came home to the rural south.

I don’t much care for large cities, the northeast, the west coast, Hollywood, or the Democratic party that represents them. I don’t wish them harm I just wish they’d leave me alone. Giving me Obama as president isn’t leaving me alone.

While I won’t do anything illegal I’ll certainly do my best to engage in civil disobedience whenever and wherever possible. With the election of Obama I simply cannot consider myself a citizen of this country any longer.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

Thank God,i changed my party affiliation long before.Republicans are war mongering party and they are sponsored by the rich and conglomerate and these jerks are greedy and money hungry.They put up their dummy and go for hunting.Any person call Mccain/Palin true american or patriot,forget it,they just want to be elected and rest to the story is Bush.Who cares if this country of ours goes bankrupt or turn out to be one the third world countries.Look at canada and us,where are we going.

Posted by Khanzada | Report as abusive

‘Real’ America is a concept born of fear. Fear has become the foundation of the American political right. Conservative leaders understand fear as the most effective means of motivating their electoral base. Right-wing demagogues like Sarah Palin capitalize on the anxieties afflicting insular white populations throughout this country. They tap into fears of the foreign and of the future. They tell them their traditional values are under threat from liberals and minorities, indeed from the federal government itself, and that they must be prepared to fight for their way of life. After stoking these fires, they douse them with assurances that they will prevail because they, and they alone, are the ‘real’ Americans.

This kind of tactic is grotesque, misleading, and divisive. It obviously holds no broad appeal across the political spectrum. For me it stands as yet another example of politics that cling to American mythology rather than American potential.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

According to “ProudAmerican”, I don’t count. I am a naturalized American who came here from a repressive Socialist regime. Yet I think a nationally cohesive health plan, at a very basic level, would be great. I think going back to Glass-Seagall would be a good thing. I am pro-choice. I am pro-gun. I am an independent. I didn’t leave my country of origin, my language, my culture, my family and friends, and my dog behind the Iron Curtain just to come here and be told by some political party what to think and how to feel. Now THAT would be un-American. Shame on you, ProudAmerican.

Posted by Kate | Report as abusive

American Indians. My colleague mentioned this today and I reckon he’s got a point. They would have to be the most “real” Americans around. Or is it un-american to mention such a thing?

Posted by Luke Mitchell | Report as abusive

It dissapoints me to read the comments in here. An American is just to simple. We are the one’s that know America is a REPUBLIC, yes thats Right a REPUBLIC. I think most in here do not even know that simple fact. We are allowed to agree and disagree. We debate, heck some times we just argue. We Americans are entitle to our own oppinions. Get it? We AMERICANS want answers. It is our Country, and the people we elect are just that. Elected persons to office. Hopefully more than 30% of you vote. Not likley though. Data does not lie and does not show many more do vote. So I will say to all of you that call Republican’s all these off full thing’s I say REPUBLIC to you!!! The answer is yes to Question American UnAmerican, if WE Americans vote it in then that is what it is. My vote is for America, UnAmerica. It is my RIGHT. I will vote McCain, its my vote. Tommorrow will tell. Because I am an AMERICAN I will HONOR how we AMERICAN UnAMERICAN deside. “TODAY IS TODAY TOMMORROW WILL BE ANOTHER DAY” as is all days. GOD BLESS AMERICA! McCAIN PALIN 08.

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive

um for all this rhetoric… Isn’t the question of what makes a real American moot? I mean, are we not all human first? And everything else second? Take away colour, creed, religious beliefs, gender from our conversations and maybe we have a chance to treat each other with humanity.

Besides what I would love to see is an unofficial global vote – that is, a vote that allows everyone who cannot vote in the American elections a chance to vote. It would be interesting to see what the rest of the world thinks of this election.

And on that note I would vote for Obama – only because McCain/Palin keeps going down the personal attack track – And winners don’t focus on beating their opponents – the focus on being the best they can possibly be..

g

Posted by Grantus Maximus | Report as abusive

I just voted for Barack Obama and Joe Biden – Phew, does that feel good, very exciting even. Our normally sleepy little town was a BUZZ of enthusiasm at 7.02am. And yes this American had to wait 30 minutes to cast my ballot. Usually I am in and out in less than two minutes and that includes exchanging pleasantries with the polling people. Today, we have three times more polling staff than usual, and it is the busiest scene that I have seen here in 14 years – WOW! We are a largely democratic town, so if this is any indication of peoples’ desire for a better future (for us all), then we are a good indicator. I know that the world is watching with bated breath, so I thought I would share this.

And as for Larry (posted today at 12.09GMT), hopefully a great change will mean that he can better his education as well.

Posted by Karen Cunningham | Report as abusive

Here Here Grantus.

Posted by The King | Report as abusive

I believe the whole notion of “competition” is flawed and inefficient. why should there be a “loser” and a “winner” for eveything? Can’t we improve upon that? Constantly toiling away in relative isolation and being prorietary seems incerdibly wasteful and selfish – why not SHARE? if anyone loses, in a sense we all lose. shouldn’t we realize now that we’re all in this together and start working WITh one another and helping each other and cooperating? it’s so sad that we insist on being selfish and combative. our resources are dwindling, while poulation grows. Me only have ONE finite planet. it’s inevitable that we’ll be forced to cooperate or we won’t survive, so it seems to me you can get over your GREED and colossal sense of entitlement, and the quicker the better. Americans are unquestionably the most spoiled, narcissistic people on the face of the planet.. we consume most of the worlds goods and resources, including most of the oil, and are wasteful and arrogant in the extreme). We have a HUGE number of people in prisons, and the middle calss has been vainshing as the ranks of the poor and the rich grow. NOT a pretty picture.

Posted by Hans | Report as abusive

I noted one previous commentator stated that: “Ag reform is a quite common policy of socialist governments and I challenge you to give me an example of when and where it has worked.”
To quote a bit of Japanese history, one of the major social reforms conducted by the US during its post WWII occupation of Japan was a massive redistribution of private wealth, through aggricultural reform and the break-up of industrial conglomerates. In fact, roughly 70% of the country’s agricultural land was confiscated and redistributed to peasants. According to historians, the US occupation forces thought that the best way to establish foundations for a democratic nation was to alleviate the economic inequalities which existed in Japan at that time. Well anyways, I just thought it was worth mentioning the irony that if you spoke with an elderly Japanese farmer, he would probably equate “American Values” more in line with wealth re-distribution and social engineering.

Posted by T from Tokyo | Report as abusive

It is amazing to see the true values of the Republicans in this country. They have become mean, vicious and petty when they don’t get their way and have chased away any and all moderates, be they Democrat, Republican or independent. The party has been distilled to a loathsome and vile political entity. It will take years, if ever to rebuild it and it may even fracture and cease to exist.

Posted by David Dee | Report as abusive

Eric said: “With the election of Obama I simply cannot consider myself a citizen of this country any longer”.

Well, Eric then its time for you to find another country, say Russia or Venezuela.

Posted by David Dee | Report as abusive

The MOST patriotic thing we can do as Americans is to question our government, question our leaders, stand up for what we believe in, and voice our differing opinions. These are the very things we fought a revolutionary war over. They are at the very core of what it means to be an American. Yet the people who do this are the very people that the rest are calling Un-American or Anti-American.

That is what is most sad about this election and this article.

Posted by Kristy | Report as abusive

To Jack Serkoff: I’m in favor of allowing all aliens to come to the United States, except those from
Bizarro World (Superboy #68 (Oct. 1958))

Posted by David Dee | Report as abusive

tdog, don’t dare call anyone here an “unreal” American, expecially those who, unbeknownst to you, are retired USAF captains. Your parastic attitude typical of those who are greedy and have a complete lack of empathy or duty. Unlike you, I believe in giving back to my countrymen, and I believe that our choice of government – while imperfect – is worth supporting. Clearly you think helping anyone else falls on the shoulders only of private institutions. I believe that everyone in the boat should take a turn rowing.

If you think I don’t know the difference between a “socialist” country and “free” America, you have the wrong person. I love the USA. What have you done for the USA besides pursue your personal success?

You exemplify the closed-minded attitude that was just voted out of the White House. When someone proposes other ideas with which you don’t agree, you propose that they emigrate.

No one disagrees with working hard to achieve success and happiness. However, I guarantee that no business of yours or mine could succeed without government involvement, whether it be police law enforcement reducing crime or the postal service delivering your mail, or the public library providing educational resources and entertrainment, or the soldiers that protect the nation at home and abroad. But by all means, if you want to do everything yourself, then please choose not to use any of these public services.

Posted by Jean | Report as abusive

Well, I suggest that five generations of immigrant descendent should go to their original homes, and THEN we will realize who were here first. I don’t see why the Mayflower immigrant are less immigrant than the others, even the ones who cross the borders last night. Immigrant are that, no matter if you are a fifth or sixth generation of them. The new world, America, is full of us since Cristopher Columbus hint Europe about this land,; yes, about 200 years before the Mayflower appear on scene.

Posted by Marilyn | Report as abusive

This Debusmann guy is obviously not an American guy. He appears to be one of those socialist liberal commies.

Posted by emelemel | Report as abusive