Carl Reiner on Twitter last week, worried about the current government shutdown, said this was cause for great concern in the world's leading democracy. And I thought, leading? Who's following? The answer would appear to be no one.
After one of the recent school shootings, a young mother said to me, "What must you think of us? You must think we're all mad." Mad certainly, but not all of you.
Half of America seems to be entirely enviable: movies, books, TV, arts, liberal democratic institutions, great centers of learning and research, gay marriage, social freedoms, etc., etc.
The other half does seem to be, well, nuts.
Currently you appear to be almost in a state of civil war. If one party can shut down the government, then the social compact to rule is broken. In most other democracies this simply could not happen. In the UK, for example, the government would dissolve and the prime minister would call for an immediate general election, which would be held within three weeks. (Yes, that quickly.) With your fixed terms you do not have this benefit. You must limp on to the next overlong election cycle and then waste a whole year of execrable television and billions of dollars on it. This is a very expensive and not very flexible system of democracy that no one else wants to follow.
The Mad Hater's Tea Party throws everything overboard, not just the tea. The captain, the crew, the ships dog... Pirates could hardly do worse.
It seems especially perverse that people purporting to be Christian, a religion that vows to help the poor and heal the sick, should be so violently against helping the poor and healing the sick. Followers of a religion that preaches forgiveness and turning the other cheek, demand the right for the outright insane to own more and more weapons. Nuts, I'm afraid.
Now some people get very angry when a non-American like me dares to talk about America. "Well, piss off then, go somewhere else," they say. Forgetting that we who live amongst you are the ones who like you the most, and if you don't listen to what we think, then the ostrichisation of America will continue. Bend over, head in sand, hand on heart, salute flag.
The great thing about America has always been your ability to rally round in difficult times, especially under attack and create new solutions to modern problems. Of your current state the Founding Fathers would be horrified and terrified. Nobody asked the Mothers. You may need to re-evaluate. The Constitution may need updating. It's not the Bible. Then, neither is the Bible.
We need you to prosper. You can rule the world, or you can ruin it. Time to wake up. We really need you.