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Daily Connect: Is America in its own Universe?

"It's always worth bearing in mind that what passes for a hard right, extremely conservative anti-welfare state politician in Europe is, in general, to the left of any significant figure in the Democratic Party of the United States. So they're in a different universe of a discourse about these things over there."

-Economist Paul Krugman to Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air," discussing the role of government and the social safety net in Europe.

Yesterday morning I listened to this  recent interview of the Fresh Air show, and this quote was extracted from that interview, about the interdependence of the European Union's economic system. Watching the 45th Super Bowl between the Packers and the Steelers last night, two of the most "All-American" teams, both named after industries that no longer exist as before in their respective cities, I couldn't overcome the feeling that the spectacle before us was intensely American, unbelievably American, in its targeting and culture.

More and more, it seems the definition of "American" is not one of shared identity, but rather one of isolated identity, cut off from the cultures and the discourses of the rest of the world. This feeling of Americanness stood in stark contrast to watching the 2010 World Cup, which felt like a truly global event. Maybe it's just because Soccer has fewer commercials and fewer Sam Elliott moments.

The Krugman quote, albeit only one perspective from a guy now considered an American progressive (who would've been considered a centrist or even center-right economist until 10 years ago), really hit home. Are we just in a different universe, politically, spiritually and culturally, from the rest of the world? Am I in a different universe from the rest of America because I like things like Universal Healthcare, and boo when commercials come on in the movie theater, and I find American football just a tad homoerotic? Maybe I should go live on an island somewhere (oh, wait, I do).

It's ok to tell me I'm a strange American. I still love a good game of any kind, by the way. Last night's game was a good one. But America feels increasingly strange and distant to the rest of the interdependent world, which is of course, no paradise either.

I just want us all to live in one universe. Our minds keep us separate enough from the rest of the world. Is that so wrong?

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This was my fear. To become a

This was my fear. To become a part of a Buddhist community is really becoming a part of a socialist / liberal community. I guess the Buddhism is just a front.

Conservative Buddhism

It'd be interesting to hear of right wing conservative Buddhist groups out there. I've yet to meet a right wing conservative Buddhist, let alone a whole community of them! It'd be interesting to see how the eight fold path is applied to conservative ideology. Seems like a lot of work and thinking that runs counter to the path I'm on so I'm not the one to do it though. Worth the analysis I think. Anyone out there have any literature on Conservative Ideology and Buddhism?

Southernselect, maybe you could start an IDP meet-up group that isn't socialist/liberal?

Who said anything about socialist or liberal?

Seems like an ad hominem attack, since nothing in this post mentions either of those two words.

Everyone at IDP has their own political views.

Mine come from my own subjective contemplations of interdependence. My interest in universal healthcare arises from my understanding of interdependence. Many capitalist countries offer universal health care to citizens.

Where do you get socialist or liberal from? I identify with neither of those labels personally.

So glad to have you with us on the blog, though!

From what I understand, most

From what I understand, most Vietnamese Americans are Republican (not that Republican is conservative) due to their support during the war and the fight against communism. Houston received a lot of Vietnamese refugees after the war, and they make up the backbone of the seafood industry here. They are mostly Buddhist. I could go to their centers but I don't quite get the language and culture :-)

I dunno.. when I came here I just didn't expect Paul Krugman quotes and people complaining about Palin's cross-hairs, but I guess I should have. (Krugman is a shameless Keynesian and basically a political operative) Sorry, it's just so typical. You can get that anywhere else, I can go to cnn.com for that. It can be pretty divisive. I'm just not interested in Liberalism, big-government saviors, forced materialistic equality, and state-mandated compassion. But I guess it's some something I will have to deal with. I will keep stopping by though. Hopefully I won't be in such a bad mood next time.

Thank you

Also... just gotta say: i

Also... just gotta say: i don't give a damn bout football, but i love those sexy bods. Is that something homoerotic going on down there? nice, whatever it is. i like all those big dudes hugging each other. I got banished form the tv room by my boys for excessive drooling and foolish comments on those incredible tattoo'd  arms those gentlemens have. 

(sorry, that's probably TMI)


You express a sentiment that I hear very often from people in this country. i feel it a LOT myself. I know people, both on the left and the right who feel like total outsiders in their own country, and like the majority of people hold beliefs different than their own. And yet, i think this points to what I have come to appreciate with a feverish passion lately about the United States. We are truly diverse as a population. Granted there is certainly segregation in a lot of areas, simply because people tend to live near people "like themselves," but taken as a whole, we represent an incredibly wide range of opinions and ideas, races, religions, colors, sexual preferences and tolerances, etc.

My husband works at the State Dept, running a program that sponsors talented professionals from "emerging nations" (i can't think any good term for this - we used to call them 3d world nations) for a year of study at universities and networking in the U.S. There is no agenda, just a free sharing of cultures, ideas, etc. I have been profoundly moved - and changed in my beliefs - from coming to know these people and hearing their view of America. it would be too complex to write here, but what they all say after a year here is how surprised they are to discover the diversity that exists here. You will not find it on tv, in our media, in our political face or corporate board rooms. But you can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and not hear a word of English spoken, so many different languages buzz around you. You can find a gay pick-up scene at the local gas station in the redneck Republican part of Pennsylvania where my farm is. You can find the most creative and astonishing anomalies to any generalization you might try to make about this country or its people. And that is what I couldn't see myself until I saw it through the eyes of our visitors from around the world. This daughter of an anti-american 60's era communist has become intensely patriotic recently.

We are doing this thing in a way that few other countries could imagine. they might talk a big talk, but really doing this with a genuinely diverse population is crazy hard... living next to neighbors who are really, REALLY different than ourselves. It makes it a challenging, but incredibly rich place to practice. thank God (Buddha?) that we have to see ourselves in the mirror of the eyes of others who are different and who disagree, and see the world differently than we do... lest we grow too comfortable or begin to believe our narratives about ourselves. ;)

who's defining?

"The definition of "American" is not one of shared identity, but rather one of isolated identity, cut off from the cultures and the discourses of the rest of the world."

what is the definition of American? and who's defining it? the definition of American or America is deeply colored by the view of the person who's giving the definition.

I like the World Cup better than the Super Bowl; I like futbol better than football, but I don't like league soccer. The World Cup is designed to highlight cross-cultural connections. American football is "intensely American" because nobody else plays it. There's canadian football and aussie football, but those are different. (I don't know if football is homoerotic, but soccer is majorly heteroerotic.)

The "rest of the world" is no more  monolithic than the US. China's not sharing a whole lot of culture, politics, and spirituality with other nations. Interdependence doesn't mean lockstep.

I'm not a patriot by any means, and I believe the US has real problems. I just believe that other countries also have problems -- homophobia, bankrupt economies, racism, corrupt politicians, etc. I get tired of people complaining in vague terms about how awful america and americans are.

"Am I in a different universe from the rest of America because I like things like Universal Healthcare, and boo when commercials come on in the movie theater, and I find American football just a tad homoerotic? I should go live on an island somewhere (oh, wait, I do)."

I agree with yon lots of things, but I don't feel like I'm on your island.

I think we're making the same point?

Are you responding to my blog post, Krugman's quote, or something else? Not sure who you are disagreeing with here.

Or do you just like to be negative online and play devil's advocate in comments?

Can't really figure out what you are referencing, but it seems like something has rubbed you the wrong way here.


thanks for this

my brain needed an intervention, a stick in the hamster wheel, to stop spinning.


not my intention to be negative. it feels like you're referencing the stereotype of the fat, agressive, beer-swilling American, and I actually don't know any people like that. I know people who are caring and connected and who work for universal health care and transitional hosuing for the homeless and gay marriage and watch football and like the black eyed peas. it feels like that aspect of america gets ignored. are we not americans? do we not drink beer? (insert smiley face).

I am a bubble in the blue sky floating over your island.

The island you're referring to (Monster Island)

in this case

I will be a bubble that has merged with the water, which will evaporate and become the clouds, which eventually will rain down somewhere else, and be absorbed into a plant that will be come food etc....

Monster Island

No, no, no. This is where Godzilla lives. You're still Nancy and this is Godzilla's home ;)

we are all godzilla



What defines "American"?

Football is and isn't homoerotic. So's "profesional" wrestling and super hero comics. Does non-homoerotic mean American? The homoerotic part of your post is confusing for me. Do you imagine that most American's don't like gay stuff? I think most Americans really don't care and some other Americans really really care one way or the other. I care like I care about human rights in general. Whether or not football is homoerotic is actually uninteresting to me (because football is uninteresting to me).

What is a "Sam Elliot moment?" I watched the youtube clip and that sounds nice. Sounds like he's old and appreciative to have consistent work in the movie business. Did he do something unAmerican or did he do something overtly American?

I like what Paul Krugman said. He seems like a with-it dude.

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