Once upon a time I was asked by a European friend why on earth America is so distrusting, and at times, openly hostile towards our own government. This is something that difficult to answer individually. America is a big country, and there are many different people who live here. Being somewhat pan-cultural myself. I really hate painting any type of culture, including my own, with a broad stroke.
It did make me think for a bit though.
In the end I realized that this question comes about because foreigners don't have a good understanding on how America is "put together". Not only this, there are some cultural hang-ups that Americans have that they don't realize they have. However, when pointing it out, many of the Americans I talk to tend to agree with my view. I'm able to explain, at least for me, why we tend to distrust our government.
1)I hold a tighter allegiance to my state, than I do my country.
2)Washington D.C. Is not a state.
To me, I am an "Wisconsinite" before I'm an "American". I have talked to Texans, Californians, New Yorkers, Floridians, and others, and have found that, in part, they feel the same way. This is why we almost never self-identify as Americans in our own country. To further explain why this is, I'm going to give you non-Americans out there a quick crash-course on American history and the structure of the country.
Before we were the United States of America, the name of the land here was called "Columbia"
. I like to think of Columbia as the name of the land "under" the United States. When our country popped into being, a small parcel of land in the shape of a diamond was created without statehood. It was a "District of Columbia", and named after our first president. Thus, Washington D.C. This seated the Federal Government that, in theory, coordinates and unites all the states together. Keep in mind for those with a weak grasp on U.S. Geography. Washington D.C. And Washington state are two different things and on opposite sides of the country. (I've seen people confused about this)
However, when it comes to paying for our country in the form of taxes, we do something really fucked up.
3)We get taxed twice on the same income. One tax goes to the state, the other goes to Washington D.C.
4)We don't often, and rarely see, a Return of Investment from Washington.
5)The taxes for our state is half of what counties of the same size are. We are underfunded.
Now, here's another little fact about states many foreigners don't know. Each state in our union has our own Constitution. We also have our own executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In fact, every state has the ability to run autonomously of the Federal Government in Washington, save for national defense. States don't have their own military, however, we do have our own militias, which are weaker and not supported by the government.
The question then comes up that if we don't like Washington so much, and we are so autonomous, why don't we just tell the Federal government to fuck off and leave us alone?
During the civil war, the south attempted to assert state's rights and break away from the union. The war was a little more than North vs. South, and a fight to abolish of slavery, but also President Lincoln in the White House was trying to keep the states together. After the South lost, it was kind of set into our mind that Washington D.C. , and other states are willing to fight to keep the union from being broken. When you see Texas shake it's sabers and talk about succession, just remember that it's just hot air and they are full of shit.
But now here's the issue...
We live in a country where it's difficult for a State to assert it's rights against Washington D.C, however, it's really easy to the White house to assert it's rights over the rest of the union. Sometime Washington likes to assert things that are not culturally appropriate for some states. This is where lots of the gnashing of teeth comes from. When you understand this, you can understand why things like public heath care is such a hot-button topic. The states don't have enough cash to create their own, and the federal government tries to create a "once size fits all" solution that is broken with hundreds of compromises.
For sake of brevity to an otherwise long post already, I'm not going to go into interstate commerce and special interest lobbying, but there are other reasons we give Washington D.C. the stink-eye as well. I just want to pick at my own special theory and help educate our PA friends who live outside the United States.
I'm pretty open to question or comments of you want to add/comment on anything. I would like to have some of or foreign friends comment too. Has this been enlightening? Do you already know this due to your vastly superior educational system? I thinking about consolidating this as a YouTube sideshow speech and posting it. You have any input?
[TL;DR] Washington D.C. Like to piss on the states and it makes us mad and that's why we can't have healthcare. Let's talk about the U.S. From an outsider's view!