Thursday, September 30, 2010

American from abroad

America seen from abroad.

Here's what correspondent Eivind Trædal reports. America, is this correct?

"Obama didn't wear an American flag on his jacket sleeve during the election campaign. No American president can act that way." These are the words of Margaret Curole, co-ordinator of the World Forum for Fish Workers, feminist and environmentalist. We are speaking to a member of "the other America," liberal and well educated. Our discussion is going well until she catches us by surprise with her comment on Obama's sleeve. "Besides, we pay too much taxes. That's why I'm a member of the Tea Party movement."

A week after the conversation with Margaret, on September 11, we have the honor of commemorating the occasion with a few hundred Tea Party members at the Washington monument. Judging from plackards, pins and banners, this is an incongruous mixture of market libertarians, Christian fundamentalists and good, old-fashioned racists congregated around a handful of national markers. Wandering around us are Ben Franklin, the Statue of Liberty and the constitution. On stage a lady sings "the times they are a-changing," incomprehensibly. A few minutes of vague speeches emanate from the pulpit. They are about "taking back the country." From whom? To what? Answers seem as plentifold as there are attendees.
Without a common analysis and other goals than opposition to the administration and taxes the movement appears to offer nothing more than disempowered fistshaking from a populace that too long has been lacking a frame in which to understand the social changes that affect them.
The political climate has reached new depths in the world's most powerful nation. Political choices have apparently been replaced by a blindly swinging pendulum of discontent. The apathy is now so great that a few hundred oddballs in costume are able to decide the ground for public debate.