Happy Birthday, America.

Being an American in 2009 is a confusing assignment. We are supposed to be proud - this is what we're accused of anyways. We are supposed to be ashamed - a simple catalogue of our misdeeds would suffice. We are supposed to be waiting for the end - you know, us being the New Rome and all. So we are arrogant, self-critical, fatalists? Actually, sounds about right.

To the holiday at hand: the Fourth of July. It is a time when we sit outside, cook over open fire and celebrate sending the British home without their supper 233 years ago. The British, ironically, do not have a similar holiday for burning down the White House in 1814 during the War of 1812. Maybe this is why they are not a Superpower. Superpowers, after all, remain excellent at celebrating their success. Look at Russia: no celebrating, instant failure of political system, rejection of Superpower status. Not pretty.

We are and are not everything everyone says about us. We are not a broker of freedom. We aren't Satan. We're just a tiny rebellious colony dramatically morphed into the biggest economy and military in world history; all in less than 25 decades. It's an infomercial success story (actual results may differ). So, as the discussion of what it means to be an American continues, remember this: Don't believe the hype. We're just a little band who went to radio and were rewarded with massive popular support and massive popular backlash. We're doing our best and we'll try to remember where we came from. 

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