I'm an expatriate, but I've never subscribed to the whole "I left America because I hate it" notion of being an American living overseas. We moved to New Zealand because of family, and because hey, it'd be neat to live in a foreign country for a while, however long it ends up being for. George Bush being President had nothing to do with it. But I love many many things about the US, miss it a lot, and usually stick up for it when I get the occasional "America-bashing" comment from people here.
But I admit -- I don't understand this "Tea Party" nonsense or the school of Sarah Palinism at all. The incoherent rage and anger of people like the Glenn Becks and Bill O'Reillys and so forth is bizarre to me. There are people on the Republican end of things I've respected, but they seem to be a dwindling voice amongst the crazies. People on both sides of the political divide get angry and idiotic, but I don't know, it just seems like the American right wing has a patent on over-the-top lunacy.
Living overseas, I see everything now through a curious filter of distance. I wonder, are people really getting crazier, or is that just the way it seems from afar? I end up often feeling like I need to apologise for my country, or trying to explain to people that a politician or a talk show host does not equal a country.
When you get people like Sarah Palin saying things like 'Don't retreat, just reload," and you think about the likelihood that a certain amount of disturbed, gun-owning people are likely to take that as more than just rhetoric, you have to wonder. If left-wingers talked about shooting Bush, they rightfully would've been prosecuted. It's hard to imagine endlessly red-faced, violence-invoking rhetoric isn't going to lead to real trouble.
I dunno. Maybe it's just the up and down of politics as always (people have been shouting about politics as long as they've had larynxes, after all). Maybe the Internet, the Twittery and Facebookery and so forth just make everything that much louder and less avoidable. I try to tell my NZ friends that all Americans aren't like the Palinites -- that the Tea Party folk just are a very vocal, very loud fringe element that gets a lot more press than the number of people they actually represent. But maybe I've been out of America too long and the lunatics have actually taken over the asylum. Can anyone tell me?