In the US just now things are headed in only one direction – down. The dollar, mortgage lending, virtually all economic data are showing a steep decline. And while President Bush is suffering a major setback at the NATO summit in Bucharest with respect to his hasty plan to enlarge the transatlantic alliance, his poll numbers at home are at a historic low.
With all due skepticism about pollsters: if 81% of polled Americans believe their nation is fundamentally headed in the wrong direction, this is more significant than just an internal domestic problem. We in Europe should also be concerned. Washington appears to be more and more divorced from reality. Just as the War in Iraq was based on lies and faked documents, just as the dimensions of the Katrina disaster were underestimated and the response poorly managed, now the US mortgage crisis, which has global repercussions, is based on irrational and delusional assumptions. A world power has been deceiving itself for years – driven by fear of terror, a culture of greed and consumption and fantasies of saving the world.
The term “American Way of Life” is now out of fashion. Because it now stands for ruthless exploitation, blindness, and aggression. Now everyone is looking for the culprit, and it is not just George W. Bush. This man was democratically elected –twice. And even if there were some irregularities with the voting machines in Florida and Ohio, the US is not Kenya. The awful Bush years are coming to an end. “Change” will come. But the word has a slightly different meaning than how it is used in stirring campaign speeches. Change also means the loose money we carry around in our pockets. And what is imprinted on the coins: “In God We Trust”.