My favorite thing in the world today is Mark Rice's blog, Ranking America, which dispassionately reports on the United States standing in the world on anything from alfalfa exports (2nd) to child poverty (2nd worst) to percentage of rural population (167th) to penis size* (50th) to nocturnal safety (30th), which are the five most recent entries. Rice's blog pinpoints the childish mentality of needing to only hear that America is the best, richest, most powerful, free-est, awesome-ist, nicest country in the world. Yes, the United States is Number 1 in small arms ownership and incarceration rates. That's American Except-alism, number one except for most everything that matters.
I was directed to the blog by an editorial in The New York Times, which replays the quadrennial lament at our politicians' inability to be straight with citizens. The article essentially asks "What would happen to a presidential candidate who instead of pandering about American Exceptionalism pointed out disgraceful facts like our rank of 34th among the 35 most economically advantaged nations (we beat Romania!) in terms of child poverty?" They'd lose, is the quick answer, then un-reflectively moves on to say "too bad." If only we lived in a media environment, says the most prestigious media outlet in America, that was better at creating true political dialogue rather than posturing and pandering...
Point of fact, there is a presidential candidate who is making these kinds of arguments (while offering solutions to some of the same issues). In her too brief interview with salon.com, Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president rightly argues for her inclusion in the televised debates (she's on 85% of ballots across the country) and also rightly points out that 90 million Americans don't have a candidate who represents them (that's a small estimate if you ask me).
This morning, I finally became a Decided Voter for the 2012 presidential election. I will vote for President Obama despite the fact there are other candidates who better reflect my beliefs and hopes for the nation. I do this out of fear and despair, because I live in a "Swing State". I would encourage anyone who doesn't live in a swing state to do what I am not brave enough to do, vote for a candidate for president who represents not Mitt Romney's supposed "47%" of Americans who will vote for Barack Obama no matter what or the "43-47%" of partisan republicans who "decide" to believe what outlets like Fox News report, but the "43%+" of people who have so little representation in their elected officials that they don't even bother to vote. Vote for Jill Stein if you are free to.
*This just in, Roman Numeral J site visits just increased by 13,056%