We're a nation of contentious people, as each national election demonstrates to the nth degree. But, after 236+ years of national history, we have managed to get some elements of commonality.
First off, let's tick off a few things that are not entirely among these elements of commonality:
1. A common language. Well, most of us sort of speak English; but we have a number of minority languages and one that is sufficiently often used anough to appear on signs in big box hardware stores. And, as for English monophones, do not the words "coke, soda, and pop" cause difficulties also? Then there are regionalisms, like "tote" or "fixin" or "yah."
2. A shared love of freedom and democracy, but on our own terms. If so, why does both the left and the right want to abridge some form of behavior that others find enjoyable, whether it be cola beverages or paté or strip tease shows or pistolas?
3. A common religion. While few of us worship graven images, a lot of us worship engraved images: the Benjamins.
So what do we really have in common?
1. Well, we do have a national sport. While nostalgia-prone individuals refer to baseball as our national sport, football has a larger claim on hearts and minds. Otherwise, why are we singing Super Bowl Carols now and will religiously watch to see which commercial is the most imaginative and most awful? Basketball is a consolation activity for the rest of the year; but it is hot in regions like Indiana, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
2. We also have a national food. Hamburger. Don't inquire too closely into its condiments, which can include chili, mushrooms, lettuce, onions, mustard, Cajun spices, bacon, cheese, and even pineapple. In the interests of national comity, don't mention those to muddy the waters, but benignly bless all. Pizza and tacos are up there, too.
3. We've not quite resolved our national pie, but probably apple or cherry will be the one. Which one it will be is dependent on which one is adopted as the dessert by food chains.
4. When it comes to beverages, we're quite cosmopolitan in our tastes; but the true national beverage is a cola-flavored one. Sorry, California. It's Coke, not wine.
5. Yes, we have a national gesture. The bird. I've even seen octogenarian ladies flip off other drivers with this all-American salute.
6. Americans of both sexes are obsessed with breasts, if we can glean a recurrent theme in gossip magazines. And you can get yours technically augmented, also, should you so desire and have an extra $6000 of discretionary funds. Some women exploit this national weakness for their own advantage.
7. We're also obsessed with automobiles. The more powerful and brighter, the better. As a token of our affection for them, they get strange model names. However, for many of us, the affections begin to fade after a few years.
8. Yes, we like our guns. Effete East Coast liberals notwithstanding, a sure formula for a successful movie is to throw in a lot of cars and guns. And explosions, too.
9. We're very good at profanity; even in the vanilla programming of prime-time television. As a matter of fact, even the French, the Germans, and the English take profanity lessons from us! And George Carlin's "seven words you can't say on television" is almost quaint.
10. An American a trait as can be is the ingrained distrust of people from nearby states, the elite within the Beltway, and New Jersey.
11. An American characteristic that is undermentioned is our refusal to be impressed with people in power. We periodically elect Presidents and Governors, but we tend to show a nonpartisan distrust of those officials after having done so. In a way, this is to be expected of the descendants of people who emigrated from more established society because they could not or did not fit in for social, cultural, religious, or economic reasons. The idea of having a President's picture on display in a living room would be only for those safely dead by at least 150 years. Still, we're curious about details about them. Boxers or briefs? No, that detail does not apply with Vice-Presidents!
12. Strangely, we have a strong affinity for royalty of other countries: their doings, their style of life, their scandals. And what's even better: we don't have to pay for them or be taxed by them! Maybe we could lease one as our official royal person? Choose a handsome, flamboyant one, please!
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