Citizens of countries across the globe have a severe distrust of those who rule over them. Seeing all of the carnage caused by heads of state in the 20th century makes a default setting of suspicion a very reasonable position the world over. Politicians use money taken from the people to pay for things that the people generally may not agree with, and with that power often comes politicans siphoning funds toward personal projects or bank accounts. My experience in 19 countries (with exception to a few of the Western Democracies) has been that people [rightfully] view the ruling class as an extension of the slightly criminal class, worthy of moral derision under most circumstances. “Why would someone enter politics for any reason other than to live above the rules?” or so goes the logic. In most countries, this is painfully obvious, as the gap between wealth of the politicians and the wealth of average citizens speaks to the fact that there is more political means than economic at work in favor of those who join the Master Class.
In the United States, though, we believe our rulers to be different – and we take offense to comparisons of foreign leaders who would be considered corrupt in other countries to our own. Lobbying, a practice viewed as extremely corrupt in other countries, is acceptable and often praised as “democracy” here. In general, our politicians (occasionally depending on the side of the aisle the person is) “seek our best interests,” and “serve the public.” Politicians in America “do what is best for us, not themselves,” and we are incredibly trusting of this supposed fact. Obama, were he ruling in most countries across the globe, would be seen as a corrupt liar at the least, and a self-serving tyrannical murderous dictator to many. Legislation revoking the people’s right to have guns, speak out about government crimes, or exchange goods with each other would be seen as a furtherance of government power against the power of the people. Here, it is seen as what is best for us by most people. Millions of examples of government collusion with industry abound – many with American stamps of approval where foreign citizens would find the power entrenchment revolting.
I believe the reason for this lies in our belief of American Exceptionalism. We think that we are the best, most moral, richest, most reasonable, smartest, best leading, most forward-thinking, wonderful-no-matter-the-category country in the solar system. We are the Good Guys. Why then, would our leaders not be all of the above, if they are driving policy?
Of course, our Exceptionalism is our greatest curse. Why would the ugly weakness of pride in the singular man be a positive trait when applied to an entire country? Many countries have thought they were the greatest ever to exist – and it is always those countries that end up the worst, because the people trust the politicians to do what is “right” – even when right and wrong are relegated to relativistic nihilism. Think of the worst atrocities in history, and you will inevitably find patriotism, nationalism, and collectivist pride as the cores of the rotten apples.
The key to the future of the US not being a disaster is realizing that we are just like every other country, our politicians no more angelic than those in other lands, and self-rule does not mean forcing a minority to live under the rules of a majority (i.e. democracy). It is only after realizing this that anything will change in the US for the better. Our politicians act just as self-interested as everyone else. Being elected to office does not make a person suddenly less selfish or more altrusitic. Having access to power and others’ money does not make one less derserving of suspicion. The American trust of politicians needs to die, or evil is bound to occur with the public’s silent assent, as it has happened banally over and over again through history. Why third worlders have this much clearer view of reality is obvious: American Exceptionalism is killing our country.