Fandango’s Provocative Question: Is America Ready for an Openly Gay President?

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… ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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Upholding the Lie…

We’re still following the news in America with bemusement, amazed that the blustering White House still maintains that Flynn was ambushed by the FBI, even when everyone else – including Flynn himself – admits this was not the case.

Trump seems intent on upholding the lie to the bitter end… he can bleat ‘Fake news, fake news’ with regard to the media coverage of his presidency all he likes, but surely ‘Fake judge, fake judge’ won’t hold water, even with his blinkered base…

Maybe we should all start to denounce Trump by chanting ‘Fake President, fake President’ every time he continues to peddle his warped world-view, whether personally or via press secretary puppet Sarah Sanders…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Denounce

Parody of a President

My personal notion of a parody is taking something or someone and exaggerating those little things that make them instantly recognisable, exposing and poking fun at their most common mannerisms and attitudes and in highlighting them in an over-the-top cartoonish caraciture of reality, holding them up for playful ridicule in a highly amusing way.

But how do you create a parody of a president who is already so wholly exaggerated in his bullish mannerisms and attitudes? How do you highlight as funny someone whose personal reality is so distorted that they live in a constant state of self-righteous delusion, especially when their perceived self-importance is channelled into playing out a truly important role they clearly have no real understanding of?

President Trump reminds me very much of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, in that:

‘The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. “Off with his head!” she said, without even looking round.’

And as the spoiled-brat bully-boy caricature of Trump holds court with his entourage, making all these ridiculous fantastical statements on no more than a whim or flight of fancy, in the background I like (hope!) to imagine some of the more sensible White House staff scurrying around behind the scenes trying their best to rein him in, providing potential caveats to the devastating detruction he trails in his wake of bluff and bluster – a bit like the King of Hearts quietly pardoning everyone behind the Queen’s back as soon as she’s lost interest in whatever she feels had caused any slight offence in the first place.

So to my mind there is absolutely no need to parody the incumbent President of the United States – for me he manages to make a prize flashy fool of himself pretty much every time he opens his precocious little pouty mouth…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Parody

From OMG to WTF!

I make no bones about it, I am absolutely sick to death of yelling countless profanities and howling like a banshee at the TV screen whenever the news is on – and although I’m British, my husband is American by birth so that includes both UK and US news and so provides me with double the drama, like it or not… aarrgghh…! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I’m seriously pissed off at what passes for political debate in both our so-called democratic countries these days – I mean, the days of lies, damned lies and statistics would be a breath of fresh air compared to today’s lies, outrageous lies and not even a passing nod towards good-old honest analytical manipulation to confuse our brains! And any genuine attempt at proper factual analysis (particularly by the media) is loudly disputed, dismissed as fake news and effectively knocked for six in some kind of privileged-power-play – and that’s just not cricket , is it?

Politics should neither be a grandiose Victorian-British-Empire-fuelled parlour game like a stab-in-the-dark fusion of pinning-the-tail-on-the-Brexit-donkey while playing blind-man’s-buff with your braying parliamentary pals, nor the farcical social-media driven frenzy of a reality-TV-style competition for ratings where a privileged few elite participants elevated into a closed-minded circle-jerk club win big time while the much-maligned myriad majority on the outside lose everything that matters to humanity on the precocious whim of a self-styled ‘stable genius’ millionaire.

Running a democratic country within a global world economy is not about creating an antagonistic binary opposition that allows you to divide and rule, fostering foreign feelings of them and us, hiking the horrendous differences between the haves and have nots. Surely it should be more about working together as a galvanised group of open-minded and compassionate individuals towards the greater good of the people as a whole, regardless of your (or their) political viewpoint. Not just some of the people (usually the richest, who in a hierarchical societal structure inevitable have the most clout) but everyone – including your cleaner, your cook, your gardener and your nanny.

OK, so rant over. Sorry my stream of consciousness ran away with me today. But this kind of never-ending nightmarish nonsense is why over the last few years I’ve found myself going from occasionally muttering a disparaging ‘OMG, seriously? You’re having a laugh…’ to daily yelling a desperate ‘WTF is WRONG with people these days, where did all this vitriolic violence and hate come from?’ to the poor TV screen, day in, day out…

No wonder I’m bloody depressed, it feels to me like the whole world is going to hell in a handcart, while we all sit here watching, powerless to do anything except vote… so what are we all waiting for? If we don’t like it, start to change it the very next chance we get… inform yourself of the facts – ALL the facts, good and bad – ignore the bullshit and bite the bullet, because done right, that’s the power of democracy… ๐Ÿ™‚

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Bone

‘Me the President…’

We were watching Fareed Zakaria’s GPS programme on CNN the other day – yes I know I’m a Brit living in London, but my husband is American so we tend to follow the sycophantic soap-opera shenannigans of current US politics with a fair amount of shock and awe at the bucket-load of bullshit served up day after day.

Anyway, apparently it was the tenth anniversary of Fareed’s programme and he was interviewing both Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell together as special guests. Oh, the absolute relief to hear sensible views from both, respectful and collegial regardless of their different political persuasion, it felt like a breath of fresh air!

Both ex-Secretaries of State spoke frankly of the current situation, and in particular Colin Powell said three things that have really stayed with me. I’m paraphrasing of course but he spoke of Trump’s perpetually adversarial attitude to everything and everybody when most often diplomacy is what is required, both at home and abroad.

He stated that the art of getting along with others who hold opposing views and bringing people together means you focus on your similarities and start building from there, not highlight and exaggerate differences in an attempt to be deliberately divisive, again both at home and abroad.

And he also said he believed the most important three words in the American Constitution are ‘We the people…’ but sadly today’s incumbent of the White House only thinks of ‘Me the President…’ Wow… Just wow… doesn’t that just hit the nail on the head…

Allegiance?

So who or what do I feel allegiance towards? Not the stars and stripes, that’s for sure – I haven’t forgiven the USA for labelling me a Non-Resident Alien Spouse on my husband’s US tax returns.

I understand that when you marry someone, to a certain extent you also inevitably marry their family – but their country? Seriously? What does my personal financial status as a UK citizen have to do with a country I have no intention of ever living in, just because I’m married to one of its citizens who doesn’t live there either? I really resent the intrusion into my life, it upsets me greatly.

In fact, I haven’t forgiven America for requiring my husband to even file an annual tax return for a country he hasn’t lived in for 45 years, a country he’s never worked in and never will, just because he happens to be an American citizen by birth. He lives and works here in the UK and so pays taxes here, as do I. He was educated here, got married here, owns property here, and has also held British Citizenship (as a dual citizen) for the last couple of decades.

To add insult to injury, if (God forbid) something happens to my husband, it seems US tax would have to be paid by me on the lump sum of my ‘inheritance’ of our marital home and funds, as apparently it doesn’t count as a basic transfer of property between husband and wife because I’m – yup, you guessed it, a Non-Resident Alien Spouse. WTF? As if I wouldn’t have enough to deal with getting my head around death duty tax laws in my own country, I’d have to deal with all that crap too?

It seriously riles me up, makes me feel a bit like the wonderful Lizzie Bennett in Pride and Prejudice angrily telling the high-and-mighty Lady Catherine de Burgh ‘I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.’

So I’m going to stop this little rant before I go any further; suffice to say that what with one thing or another, sadly America is not high on my list of favourite countries at the moment… so definitely no allegience from me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Allegiance

 

 

Citizenship Based Tax

Did you know that only a limited few countries in the world have citizenship based tax laws, and currently the United States of America seems to be the most punitive as it continues to tax all its citizens equally on all worldwide income regardless of where they live on the planet. I would query the claim of treating all citizens equally though, as to an outsider like me it certainly seems to be a system that is inherently unfair.

The USA’s citizenship based tax system is apparently an archaic remnant of the American Civil War, and for it to remain in place today instead of moving to a more equitable residency based tax system creates huge problems for those US citizens who choose to permamantly live and work abroad. In fact it has all become so problematic in recent years that some US citizens living abroad feel they have no option but to relinquish their US citizenship, however upsetting that may be to them.

And before anyone gets up in arms about these perceived ‘traitors’ being unpatriotic and not paying their dues, please be aware this is not at all about lack of patriotism or devious tax evasion, but it is about unfairness and a general lack of understanding of what is involved and exactly what is being asked of them. Americans abroad already pay taxes where they live, according to the laws in their country of residence. So to have the onerous financial obligations and burdens of dealing with the tax requirements of two countries with very different tax laws is simply too much for many longterm. Many of these ex-US citizens feel that it is not they who have given up on their country, but their country that has effectively given up on them.

I am a Brit married to an American who has lived in the UK since childhood. He went through school here, has always worked here and only here, owns a property here, has married here, has made a family here. He has been a dual US/UK citizen for decades. And it really upsets me that we have to spend so much time and money preparing multiple US tax forms to be filed every year by law just to show he does not have to pay any US tax. It must cost the American Government way more in administration costs dealing with the reams of paperwork than can ever be gained in limited taxes owed.

We’re not talking about one or two basic tax forms here, either, and no, it can’t be done online from outside the US. We have to pay someone here in the UK who understands the system and is accredited to complete the bewildering array of paperwork that makes up our annual US tax return, and it is not at all cheap to find such expertise outside of the US. To add insult to injury, in order for my husband to claim any legitimate allowances for being married rather than single, as a ‘Non-Resident Alien Spouse’ I would have to be included in my husband’s tax return.

So no – just no, on point of principle that’s never happening. I mean, I’m British, I don’t live in America, have never lived in America and have absolutely no desire ever to do so – and so my personal financial affairs here in the UK are none of the American Government’s damned business. Additionally, as every single bank account my husband has is based here in the UK where we live, he also has to e-file details of all these ‘foreign’ accounts to the financial crimes enforcement agency annually to prove he is not ‘offshore’ money-laundering: To prove he is not a criminal, as if it is an offence to be American yet live permanantly outside of America.

And to top it all, the current US President proudly boasts of how little tax he pays, or his company pays, and his smugness encourages others in the USA to think it is clever to be like minded and screw the system from the inside, pay as little as possible, sneakily skim off a few extra bucks here and there, or whatever it takes. But for thousands of everyday Americans strugging abroad to meet obsessively obtuse tax requirements, chance would be a fine thing with so much extra suspicion and intrusive scrutiny falling on their own personal financial accounting to a level that would be completely alien and unacceptable to any US resident.

There’s a lot about America as a country I just don’t understand. Keep your gun laws with your second amendment rights if you must, although personally I feel that where a slow-loading musket may once have been a reasonably legitimate arm to bear in your own personal defence way-back-when, to my mind a modern semi-automatic assault rifle is a thoroughly unsuitable weapon for everyday use. Keep your multiple mass shootings, I don’t care if you want to continue to kill each other en masse, it is your constitutional right, after all.

But please, PLEASE sort out your archaic citizen based tax laws, change them to residency based like every other country in the free world and help your fellow countrymen abroad who are all potentially positive ambassadors of their country of birth feel proud to be, and stay, patriotic American citizens til the day they die…

Daily Prompt: Archaicย  ย