It#8217;s not about you: Americans#8217; obsession with #8216;me#8217;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2007

You know what’s wrong with America? I mean, besides a headache medicine that you apply to your forehead? Our national obsession with “me.” Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Nobody ever thinks about “us” anymore. It’s all about “me”. “You” are on your own. “We” is a convenient umbrella for a collection of like minded “me’s,” of which “I” better play a feature part and “they” and “them” are simply obstacles to be steered clear of at all costs and knocked down and run over with track cleats if unavoidable.

It’s not totally our fault, as we are engaged in learned behavior. We, the people, or rather, me, the people, and you, the rabble, can legitimately claim to be magnificently obsessed with ourselves, because of the conduct we witness in our leaders. Dim luminaries observed daily giving less thought to what is good for the whole than an alligator gives to the mood of a brood of baby ducks before hungrily gobbling up both parents.

Take our presidential primary process. Please. Over 20 states will declare their ‘08 party preferences on February 5, foreshortening a six-month winnowing process to less than four weeks of industrial-strength filtering. Not front loaded enough apparently, since Florida decided to sneak ahead of the pack by a week, a move compelling South Carolina to leapfrog ahead to January 19.

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Now we know New Hampshire is more likely to offer Fidel sanctuary than give up their First in the Nation status; besides, they have a state law that says they MUST be first, so they will precede South Carolina, probably on the 12th. And Iowa is certain to supersede that, because they got caucuses, a totally different animal than primaries. Don’t ask.

Financial considerations are obviously at stake, but mostly its ego that is fueling this jumpstarting mania. The survival of the primary process itself, or whether it is good for the country or even the political leaders participating, is of little if any concern. Cutting in line used to be considered the action of a bully, now it’s on legislative fast track. We don’t just want our cake and eat it too, we want to have it, eat it, save it, hoard it, clone it, shrink it and freeze dry it so we can carry the frosting around in our pockets for later, making sure nobody else ever gets a taste.

Not only do we fail to see the big picture, nobody bothers faking the slight lateral movement of the head pretending to look for it anymore. People are either boarding up the big picture with the custom-cut plywood of self-indulgence or they’re staring just to the side of where the big picture used to be, at that more fascinating rectangle called the mirror.

We’re just spoiled little kids who never learned to share our toys. And stay tuned. If one more self-centered ghost jumps through the primary machine, we could be looking at a Christmas caucus in the Hawkeye State this year. And if the thought of Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul dressed in Santa Claus costumes doesn’t scare the bejeesus out of you, some sort of headache remedy should be applied directly to your forehead. Like a mallet. But enough about the state of the nation, let’s get back to me.

Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio.