The ‘only in America’ myth

Nima Shirazi writes: “Only in America” is a refrain heard time and again in this country’s political discourse. According to both Democrats and Republicans, the United States is a singular nation: one in which anyone can achieve anything if you have a dream and the will to work hard; a place wherein upward mobility is assumed and someone born into crushing poverty and brutal socioeconomic conditions can reach the highest levels of wealth, success and power by sheer grit and determination.

Obviously the reality in this exceptional nation of ours is quite different.

Nevertheless, an MSNBC montage perfectly illustrates the ubiquity of this mythologized narrative of American up-by-your-bootstrapism at this past week’s Republican National Convention. Watch here:

Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who is worth millions due to investments and inheritance from his wife’s trust fund, spoke of menial labor as a stepping stone for greatness:

When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That’s what we do in this country. That’s the American Dream.

Only in America. [Continue reading…]

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3 thoughts on “The ‘only in America’ myth

  1. Norman

    Regardless of whether or not he did this, the plain simple truth today is, you won’t be able to repeat the process. After W.W.II, the greatest generation as they were called, helped build this country to the heights it attained, regardless of the tax rates, the bigotry, even 2 more wars. Then handed it off to the so called boomer generation, who now with the help of generation X, have taken a destroy the middle class, the infrastructure, the real American way attitude, through greed & stupidity. America has become a dying belief.

  2. Alex Bell

    Only in America? Only in America would the state execute a man with an IQ of 60. Nowhere else in the world.

    And you put yourself forward as the ‘City on a Hill’, having a manifest destiny to govern the world. Only in America.

  3. Leslie Garrett

    What about the gift of safe, clean, nuclear power, a whole line of reactors lining the Pacific rim. Just think of how wonderful it will be to be able to raise water melons north of the Arctic Circle. The greatest generation keeps on giving.

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