Sadly, my immediate answer to this week’s Fandango’s Provocative Question of ‘Is America ready for an openly gay President?’ is a resounding ‘no’.
In my humble opinion, however many people I piss off with my no-doubt provocative and very British perspective, to my mind America’s main problem in most things is its relative youth in the nation stakes – I mean, what’s a couple of hundred years or so of history in the grander scheme of things? Pfft… America appears sometimes (and now is definitely one of those times) to be an obvious youngster on the world’s aging stage, puffed up with the know-it-all arrogance of your average swaggering teen, preening and parading for show, loud and proud, more volume than validity in what is being vocalised.
It seems to me that historically in many ways the USA has fought so hard (and so successfully) over the last couple of centuries or so to merge together as one almost wholly immigrant population settled across the huge expanse of the country, coast to coast. It has emerged generation after generation as a stitched-together patchwork of culturally diverse and independently governed states all determined to be as one voice to the extent where, in an attempt to manufacture one great ‘American’ identity, an imagined false, forced homogeneity amongst its citizens is prized and protected above all else. In many ways, in that aim America has become a victim of its own success.
Where I’m sure there used to be a certain pride in maintaining cultural bonds with the multiple old homelands of its people, passing down generational family stories of past experiences in faraway lands, there is now an over-blown, over-laid insistence on this relatively new-forged all-American identity where all things are expected without exception to be ‘as American as apple pie’ – as if nothing important existed ancestrally before that first migratory step onto American soil, therefore nothing there is worth remembering or referring to. It’s as if the depths of the soul has been expunged from American society in search of surface similarity.
In search of this bland, blended homogeneous culture, America seems to have lost the plot somewhere along the line in that diversity in all forms – which after all not that many years ago was a valuable foundation stone in the creation of the USA – is now denied, deemed not to be trusted, effectively neutralised. Yet ironically the more America forces diversity out, the more fragile its national identity actually becomes – that’s not strength talking, but fear. America often comes across as a holier-than-thou ex-smoker projecting out its own disgust at such a filthy habit. To quote Will Shakespeare, ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’.
Personally, I would love for America with all its splendid diversity to embrace proudly its itinerant reality rather than insist on glossing over its myriad melting-pot past in a hurry to appear to be something historically stable and solid and singular that at source it is not – ‘The Stepford Wives’ comes to mind. There is undoubtedly a lot to be proud of in the creation of the USA over the last couple of hundred years as a major force to be reckoned with, but in my mind its hyped-up national mistrust of difference to its self-styled restrictive norms – particularly in light of its own humble hotch-potch beginnings – leaves a lot to be desired.
So back to the original question – sadly, I honestly think America would completely freak out at an openly gay president right now, however competent he may prove to be in office, because someone living a life so blatantly obviously different to or outside of the standard acceptable societal norms would sadly be seen as a humungous threat to those who cling on so proudly to their imagined one-size-fits-all American identity above pretty much all else, even at times their moral compass of basic humanity and respect for all others.
If it were up to me to choose your next President for you, I’d take the reality of a happily married, down-to-earth, sensible young man who understands from experience what it is like to live on the margins of ‘acceptable’ society over an overbearing, arrogant, ignorant narcissistic orange baboon any day… 🙂
PS Please note my intention is not to offend anyone with this post (well, maybe apart from the aforementioned orange baboon), I’m just sharing my own opinion – and after all it is supposed to be a provocative question I’m answering, the clue is in the title! Also the perfect post for today’s Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Compass 🙂