Of course, one can speak of capitalism and false consciousness and class war, of technology hypnotizing people with outrage. But I think there is a deeper truth here. There is a myth of exceptionalism in America that prevents it from looking outward, and learning from the world. It is made up of littler myths about greed being good, the weak deserving nothing, society being an arena, not a lever, for the survival of the fittest — and America is busy recounting those myths, not learning from the world, in slightly weaker (Democrats) or stronger (Republicans) forms. Still, the myths stay the same — and the debate is only really about whether a lightning bolt or a thunderstorm is the just punishment from the gods for the fallen, and a palace or a kingdom is the just reward for the cunning.
One of my biggest take-aways from global traveling is the realization that the rest of the world really doesn’t care about citizens of the US do so long as it doesn’t affect them. They’re aware of us but they care little about how we do things. Our media is global. Our movies are seen all over and our songs play on radio stations around the world but aside from this and the threat of our dominating military that seems to think it is responsible for everyone’s skirmishes, we are not seen as a leader in much of anything anymore.
Most of us don’t realize that and this is very dangerous.