The Imperial President

Things do seem a bit out of kilter, out of joint, anyway. In the wake of the American elections – a debacle that has sadly given sanction to the new Iraqi war – everyone of conscience feels shell-shocked. America has once more proved that it is adept at manipulating the masses like so many sheep finessed into the abattoir. It makes you want to weep. Like ancient Rome, the ‘citizens’ of America now vote for everyone in the Empire. And the rest of the world can only stand and watch in horror.

That, of course, is not exactly true. I was thinking that if I were back in the States I wouldn’t have voted for the Democrats either. It’s not a question of who’s in charge, it’s more a matter of which one will play out their role as the producers of a new model Manifest Destiny. What is surprising, though, is how the media has so easily fallen into line. There seems to be a quiet understanding that the American Miracle will only survive if everyone believes in it hard enough. It’s like keeping the Stock Market afloat with fantasised helium. Sometimes it actually works – for a while – until the spectre of the Hindenburg explodes again.

The problem is that America became the only model left of abundance that somehow has been able to equate itself with the mythology of eternal happiness. And it’s infectious. Allegorical soap operas are repackaged, sanitised and translated for the overseas media to imbibe and imbue. In a half-starved and chaotic world, it acts as a magnet of tainted hope – like candy laced with arsenic.

All this is held together with a powerful glue. And Power is as Power does. Like a reigning god, America wraps itself in its symbols and slogans of majestic blue. It can be charitable when approached with quiet reverence but mighty in its wrath if scorned.

And yet inside America there is the cancer of its own demise. This malignancy of greed and corruption can only eat away at its marrow and rot the core of energetic wonder that once, long ago, was that country’s saving grace. The nation that gave comfort to the huddled masses yearning to be free has now spat them up as those whose job it is to keep the hell fires stoked.

7 November 2002