Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

The search for ‘full-blooded American’ values

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Originally published on on Mon, 05/19/2008 – 10:19am

One was born in a state two years after it came into the Union. The other was born on American soil outside the United States. And both are running for president of the United States – as full-blooded Americans.

Barack Obama (Hawaii – 1961) and John McCain (Panama Canal Zone – 1936) are full-blooded Americans, as are Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, and yes, even Alan Keyes.

Whew! Well, we got that out of the way.

It’s funny coming in on a Monday and hearing about curiosities about the candidates and whether they are “full-blooded Americans,” especially when you consider where I was over the weekend: Canada.

Even when you are barely in Canada (Windsor, Ontario), there is this fascination with the differences between Canadians and Americans.

There are the obvious ones: accents, spellings of words, phrasing of words (in the U.S., you would say he’s in the 8th grade; in Canada, he is in Grade 8.) There are subtle ones: the Stanley Cup playoffs are important there; NBA basketball playoffs here. Canadians will actually queue up (get in line) for things and they do seem more polite.

But there is something about being in a different country that makes you feel American. I walk down the streets in Chicago and I don’t think about being an American. I walk down the streets in Windsor and I realize I am an American.

I’m certainly not the “rude American” and I use Canadian currency, even in Windsor, where American money is welcome. But when I watch Canadians up close, and even though I love Canada and Canadians, I know deep down inside I’m an American.

But we all realize that for 24-year-old Josh Fry of West Virginia, “full-blooded American” means something different. And on that long list up at the top, some of them qualify in the mind of Josh Fry and some of them don’t.

I know I have distant cousins in West Virginia, and relatives scattered throughout Appalachia, such as Western Virginia and Kentucky. I’ve been to Kentucky numerous times.

And you know what: some of these people aren’t going to vote for Barack Obama, even if he is the best candidate to address their needs. They live in some of the poorest areas of the country, and they might vote for a guy who admits “I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues.” And we’ve seen how much he knows about Iraq these days.

But hacks such as Kathleen Parker are obsessed with people such as Josh Fry and his search for a candidate with “blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values.”

Sadly, it does seem to be American to drift to the level of the lowest common denominator. We do that with our education system (No Child Left Behind). We do that with our television (Farmer Wants a Wife). We find the least-educated, least-knowledgable people and hold them up as the standard that our politicians should appeal to, and they should do it in a way that insults everyone else.

It’s funny when you are in Canada that the way they approach things does have a “heritage and commitment to hard-won American values.” Take care of your fellow citizens. Make sure those of all races, creeds, and colors have opportunities to contribute to the fabric of society. Work hard and you can get somewhere. These are Canadian values, and they are also American values. Full-blooded American values.


Written by democracysoup

May 19, 2008 at 10:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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