What if your red-blooded, gun-toting, 'raisin' McCain' fan was actually America's biggest critic? What if all that bravado disguised an enormous insecurity about where we stand?
For some time I have put forward arguments with the idea that the 'America is #1' crowd needs to acknowledge a grim reality. Amongst the things I have mentioned: 20% of America is functionally illiterate, we are $9 trillion in debt with a broken economy, our education system is 28th in the world, our infrastructure requires $5 trillion in investment to bring it up to modern standards, our military is looking increasingly powerless...
How wrong I was, 80% of America knows we are on the wrong track. Furthermore, they know that our current track was laid down by an administration that John McCain largely agrees with.
So why are Americans supporting electing McCain for train driver? Simply put, Americans like being lulled by the motion of the train, even if it is out of control.
The GOP base is composed of people who acknowledge 'I don't have the answer but I don't really want to try understand the problem'. As with all tyranny, the powerless seek the seemingly powerful and submit their judgment to the mighty who promise an easy and untroubled existence.
The GOP base is composed of people who aren't clinging to guns or religion, but rather are holding tight to the legs of strong, authoritarian figures. George Bush utters "Bring 'em on" and the GOP feels the thrill down his leg. John McCain evokes the aura of being an unbreakable POW, and America forgets his failures past and present.
The myth of a powerful GOP as a reflection of a powerful America is perpetuated by media counterparts such as Limbaugh, Hannity, and O'Reilly. Every negative and vicious attack by the GOP only serves to show just how Alpha Male the Republicans are - and every Democratic protest of 'be fair' becomes 'whining'.
The GOP is unapologetic because everyone knows the King of the Jungle roars when others are asking for a vote or speaking of human rights.
The GOP base knows America is unpopular overseas, but they still think the world will shiver at the roar of a lion. That the lion's teeth are becoming worn, and rivals are roaring in the distance, is suppressed by selective hearing. In the face of this reality, the election of an aging warrior like McCain would be ironic indeed.
It is no surprise that the GOP speaks to 'family values' and 'American traditions' as these myths highlight fealty to government and righteous authority. To those who question whether the GOP governs in a manner which is righteous, the prompt answer is that it is unpatriotic to question.
In the face of threatening complexity, the GOP message is unmistakeably clear and simple: There are people who have the answers, but they won't waste your time with the trivial details. While they won't ever be able to completely outline the 'answers', they will reassure you with the mythology of an America that is omnipotent, fair, and on God's side. The last of these is the most important, after all, with God on your side how can a country fail?
Radical Islam? Kill them. How? Strong military. Weak economy? Cut taxes. Financial chaos? Deregulate and cut 'bureaucracy'.
Fortunately for the GOP, the contradictions are never exposed. For instance, how do you increase funding for the military while cutting taxes? How does less regulatory oversight mean banks will follow the rules?
America can't handle the truth, and in the face of this the GOP offers "bigger truths" so that "the little facts don't really matter".
Unfortunately, those little facts constitute something called reality - and reality bites when it's ignored for too long.