As we come off the heels of 4th of July we are deluged by celebratory images of revolutionary soldiers, star-spangled banners, and 18th century quotes. Beneath all of this jargon and propaganda is the belief that The United States Of American is the best nation on earth. With our GDP in declined, poor education ranking, drastic disparity in wealth equality, and sluggish social innovations we have to ask if the USA isn’t resting on its laurels.
Though the Unites States isn’t atop of all the positive statistical rankings we once were, it is not to say that we don’t have a few things going for us. The world’s largest and most profitable companies are still American, (though what it means to be an ‘American’ country is quesitonable). Our university system is still top ranked, (albeit exclusive and increasingly more populated with international students). We also have a booming entrepreneurial sector at the moment.
But we aren’t the MOST entrepreneurial nation, the Atlantic reports, that both Israel, and, Sweden, and Brazil rank higher than us in number of new starts ups be recent index. We certainly don’t produce the most art, and are not the manufacturing center of the world any longer either, nor are we producer of the most feature films (Second behind India). Where we win is that we are the most boastful about our successes. America is great at creating positive images of itself and projecting them into the world.
In some strange way we have built the most successful propaganda engine in the world. We market and uplift the ideals of liberty and freedom whether or not we are the most devoted to their practice. Even with our economy in decline and jobs in short supply we are still seen as the promised land by many immigrants. In so far as the American brand, we are brilliant purveyors of our lifestyle and concepts and culture.
In so many instances we have proven expert at appropriating the best of which ever culture we allow within our borders and turning a profit from it. We are not the best at soccer but our David Beckham , became the highest paid soccer player in the world when he moved to the US. What we are best at is creating fanfare. America knows how to throw a great party. Even if the party is not the best party by comparative measure. We will have generated such a narrative about what happened that everyone will wish they are there.
The challenge that America has faced and will continue to face is living up to its own hype. That hype being includes the Constitution, and Declaration Of Independence. These documents signify America’s promise to be the type of innovative nation that makes such bold statements that we put down in our founding documents. The task will always be to realize those statements in a way that we can all stand behind.
The United States may not be definitively be the most creative nation in the world, but it not without hope to be so. Deep within the propaganda and bravado is not only a promise but a dream. Our flags, and quotes, and imagery speaks not only to the identity we wish to convince the outside world we embody but it is one we must constantly convince ourselves we are capable of becoming. If nothing else, the US has set an ambitious benchmark in front of itself; to be the Best Damn Nation on earth, and though it may not be true, the United States is one nation just hopefully, optimistic, and even foolish enough to believe it, and it is that believe that may be the redeeming quality that one day allows it to be so.