I’ve never quite agreed with the assertion that America is the most powerful nation in the world, and that the role of president makes one “the most powerful person in the world.” It’s embarrassing. It may have been true at one time or another, but as of late it’s served only as ego-bait. Everyone has that friend or relative whose ego is so inflamed that a compliment can derail an evening and send them on a tirade of self-congratulation. That is precisely what “the greatest country in the world” as a title has done to the United States. It inflated the country’s self-importance in such a way that the leadership has been blinded by a “they need us, we can do no wrong” mentality. But in truth, America hasn’t been “the greatest country in the world” for a long time. Hell, the U.S. hasn’t even been the greatest country in North America for some time.
President Trump used the term “shithole” a few years back in reference to lesser-developed nations. He was maligned, but like all his stunts, it was swept onto the ever-growing pile of terrible things the President says and does. But now, I’d like to reclaim this term for a country more deserving of such a derogatory nickname: The United States of America.
America is the worst it’s been for quite some time. The U.S. faired terribly in the coronavirus pandemic and continues to fatally flounder. The “freedom” promised in our constitution has been perverted and twisted into a weapon that old white men in power wield to get their way and avert meaningful change. Our privilege is such that we think we don’t even need to take the precautionary measures, that the only survival we need to ensure is that of capitalism. Citizens are struggling to make ends meet, unemployment is up, and there is an encroaching eviction crisis as the country and world continue to struggle against COVID-19.
The civil unrest in America has been felt the world over, but The Trump Administration has managed to remain on the wrong side of history, instead sowing division and painting protestors as anarchists and fascists. Unidentified federal officers were sent to U.S. cities to quell protests and round up protestors in unmarked vans. President Trump even encouraged violence on Twitter. Perhaps most importantly, our history is cleansed and fed back to us in such a way that many of us don’t know much of anything. Almost all of America’s history is fraught with white men fighting progress in order to keep their position, but we’re taught that the civil war and civil rights movement ended all our problems and everything is hunky dory. The sheer amount of resistance to racial and economic equality over our country’s history up to the present day is astounding, and it’s a history that’s often glossed over. We’ve censored our own textbooks.
Perhaps we should be “the country formerly known as the most powerful nation in the world.” Over the last three years we’ve made enemies out of friends we’ve had for decades. Somehow, we’ve even managed to feud with Canada, which I didn’t even know was possible. We’re a global joke. And, on top of it all, the President floated the idea of delaying the elections so he stands a better chance of winning; he even refused to answer whether he’ll accept the election results, which seems to suggest that his acceptance is contingent on his winning the election.
And so, when we consider the civil unrest, mass unemployment, secret police, massive wealth inequality, altered history, systematic loss of rights, enemy-making, autocratic leader, foreign influence, and unearned hubris, America really isn’t “the greatest country in the world,” and President Trump is certainly not “the most powerful person in the world.” America, for the time being, is a shithole. Not only that, but America is the shithole country. There is only one nation deserving of that moniker, and that is the country whose leader is so willing to grant that insulting title to lesser-developed nations: Shithole America.