You can’t make this stuff up

Confused about America and the workings of that country’s politics? So are we. That’s why our Special Correspondent got America on the phone for an exclusive interview.


Special Correspondent: Thanks for taking time out to join us, America. Interesting times, don’t you think?

America: What sort of a trick question is that? We’re sick of smart-arse foreigners setting us up for failure. We remain the one and only beacon of hope for the world, for democracy, for … mmm, quite a few other things I can’t recall right now.

Special Correspondent: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

America: Exactly! It’s good to see our values are so widely recognised.

Special Correspondent: But your political system seems to be, don’t take this the wrong way, a bit creaky. I know you got rid of the most outrageous examples of discrimination—

America: What does that mean?!

Special Correspondent: Wasn’t there a time when African Americans were quizzed when they tried to vote? Some of them were even asked, “How many bubbles in a bar of soap?” to try to disenfranchise them.

America: All in the past, and name me a country that doesn’t have a few awkward memories. I hear that Australia’s hardly squeaky clean. What about that dictation test you had: asking a migrant from say, Swaziland, to write a passage in Icelandic, or vice versa, and deporting them when they couldn’t.

Special Correspondent: Fair enough, but I’m asking the questions here. It’s hardly one vote one value in America, is it? As for the electoral college, can an eighteenth-century institution really meet the demands of the twenty-first century? Some have described it as, quote a disaster for democracy unquote.

America: What idiot said that?

Special Correspondent: President Trump.

America: We’re not expected to believe anything he says. That’s why he’s so popular. It’s about the acting, the entertainment, the need to distract us from all the horrible things we’re doing to each other.

Special Correspondent: But isn’t the truth important?

America: It’s grossly overrated. If you’re so hung up about truth remember this. Trump didn’t take us into one new foreign war. Not one. That’s quite an achievement when you think of all the countries we either invaded or subverted under earlier presidents: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Cuba, Costa Rica, Honduras, Haiti, Panama, Grenada, Venezuela, and so on and so forth.

Special Correspondent: That’s an impressive list.

America: C’mon, that’s just a sample. When it comes to interfering in the internal affairs of other countries no-one, absolutely no-one, can hold a candle to us. Trump realised, wisely, it’s all about the economy nowadays. Why start a foreign war when we can have one at home? It stimulates growth, creates jobs, saves all that foreign travel, even helps in the battle against climate change—if you’re stupid enough to believe in that conspiracy. And why go overseas to catch Covid-19 when you can so easily get it at home?

Special Correspondent: That’s all very persuasive. But don’t you think the day of America having to reckon with its internal contradictions is inevitable?

America: Well, I question the premise of your question. Just because we’ve trashed the principles of Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, foreigners like you get all sniffy. We’ll go on doing what we’ve always done so well: proclaiming principles we have no intention of upholding. That’s what made this country what it is today.

Special Correspondent: Isn’t that just the problem?

America: No comment.

Special Correspondent: A final question. How many bubbles are there in a bar of soap?

America: No comment. But do send me more info on the dictation test, will you. Could be a real goer here.

Image: (CC BY-NC 4.0)

This entry was posted in Satire on by .

About Peter Rodgers

Peter Rodgers is a former Australian diplomat and journalist, now an author and playwright. His foreign service career included appointments as Australia's High Commissioner to the Caribbean and Australian Ambassador to Israel. Earlier, as Jakarta correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter received the Australian Journalist of the Year Award for his reporting on East Timor. Peter has written two non-fiction books about the Middle East: Herzl’s Nightmare—one land two peoples; Arabian Plights—the future Middle East. His short fiction has been published or long/shortlisted in national and international competitions. Peter’s new novel, Beethoven’s Tenth and the journey which saved the world, will be published in late 2020 (Green Hill Publishing). A collection of his short stories, Life, death and other distractions, will be published in early 2021 (Ginninderra Press).

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