United States of Generica

I’ve always believed that American exceptionalism exists, but not necessarily in a positive way. I haven’t been across the pond but I doubt that the idea of the big box stores surrounded by lots of chain restaurants with SUVs in the parking lot, mcmansions etc etc; has taken hold in western Europe. One also notices this in religion. This aforementioned hypothetical community also has mega churches, which are seldom outside the US. This is maybe evident in our historic propensity towards proposition nationhood. You have Italian restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Chinese restaurants etc. in the states because they have a distinct type of food. But in somewhere like Germany or Belgium, the idea of an American restaurant doesn’t exist unless you count McDonald’s. In the community listed in this paragraph, the sport of choice is of course football, which also is a manifestation of the American ideology not found elsewhere.

This is all part of what I call the McDonaldization of America or United States of Generica with the mcmansions mcchurches etc. It’s also my opinion that looking just at the white community in the United States says a lot more about our politics. In many ways, the football loving suburbanite in Katy, Texas has more in common with a typical American black than does a Jewish lawyer living in Scarsdale, despite the fact that the lawyer and black vote for the same party. It also seems that the democratic party is more popular among white voters the less this McDonaldization is prevalent (think of areas like Boston, New York, Bay Area). Those three cities I just listed, also seem the closest thing in the states one can get to a typical western European city.

Part of this reason may be the fact that the United States is still a relatively young country and there’s still a sense of being pioneers. After all there is a lot of room here compared to Europe. This may also explain our country’s infatuation with guns. Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill and many other sort of people exist in folk stories but there is no real equivalent in Europe. It also explains why country music and NASCAR is an american phenomenon while there isn’t much of a thing overseas. This is why I think the conversation of assimilation that inevitably goes on whenever discussing immigration misses the point. What exactly in the United States is there anything to assimilate to?


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