If you’ve ever driven a luxury car where people treat you better because of it, try this experiment. Switch cars out of the parking lot with your more frugal friend after meeting them for lunch and notice how the world immediately changes when you swap your car out for a ‘crappy’ car.
A great advantage of sitting behind the wheel of a luxury automobile is having people get out of your way. Or just assuming the best of you when you roll up. People suddenly take extra time to help you. Sure, you get a few jealous responses but on the whole, the behavior of people is cheerful and positive. It leads you to act better, be your best self and you have a self-fulfilling prophecy that life is good. But what you may easily start to believe is people just like you for you. Nope, they started that interaction because they liked the brand power of your car. They then transferred over those feelings to you. It wasn’t you, brah. At least at first.
And that’s what we forget as Americans, especially when we go abroad. Yes, there are certainly so many high-flying achievements to be proud of as an American. But did you do any of them? Chances are, you’re taking credit for far more as an American than your actual contributions to the U.S. You’re leveraging brand power. And what’s the real term for ‘leverage’? Borrow. Yo, you’re just borrowing and mooching off of American greatness. Most likely. And if you’re one of the greats from America, you’re probably quiet and chill about it. (Like dude Keanu Reeves.)
So when Americans flex their ‘leverage’, um, egos, abroad, haters call them ‘ugly Americans’. But on the whole, I’ve found that people are relatively accepting of Americans because they respect the brand. And what is the brand to them? It is quite simply what America is known as – a place of freedom.
As we’ve seen from the recent unrest, Americans aren’t collectively well-versed in signals of tyranny and dictatorship. Yes, we have pockets of intellectuals warning us. Street life hustlers see the power game. White power definitely knows what it’s trying to hang onto. But the ordinary American doesn’t and actually, well, shouldn’t be too versed in it because tyranny shouldn’t be front and center of American life for the whole ‘America the free’ concept to work.
In most other nations around the world, America is an anomaly. The U.S. system was designed from its very start to curb man’s tyrannical impulses. That’s the beauty. That’s the genius. WE weren’t great. We created a great system. Hence, you are not necessary great in that luxury car. You created a great car. Or, well, you probably financed one.
Now we are in the midst of having our great car repossessed and the world is worried. Not for us. Not for the driver. But for the dream. Why? Whenever a mother had to cry out for the police taking away their son unjustly and having well, no one to call because it was the police… at least she could imagine that there is a place on this earth where it’s a little bit more just.
In times before, if you acted like a dumbass American, you had bullshit chips. People could give you a pass because you actually weren’t what was important in their minds. To someone who loved the brand of America, it was the country itself. You just happened to be a driver representing it who showed up as a tourist. So if you acted out of turn, sure, it could be forgiven, because the hope given by the concept of America was so much greater. It was a calming force that no beer, food or other distraction could achieve. It was hope.
We just don’t do things that way in this country.
Apparently even among the darker elements in U.S. society involving organized crime, there’s a line that’s not crossed that’s so easily zigzagged in others. (Of course there are well grooved lines in the U.S., but the point is that at least American doesn’t have as much all pervasive corruption from top to bottom on the scale of dictatorships and young democracies.) Thank God if you hear, ‘We just don’t do things that way in this country.’ That means there’s humanity left and your life is spared on some level. And it means in other countries, it is done that way and human life is cheap. The minds from those who wail from injustice in a country they were born into and supposed to love can sometimes wander to the fantasy of America, a place where ‘things are not done this way’. It’s not that people are obsessed with America all the time. It’s just that America as a concept is always there for the world to access. Even if it is a fantasy grossly out of proportion to reality, there is some measure of hope and truth that the United States is fairer, more transparent and more rational than the repressive regime someone might be living under.
Even if they never step foot onto America, the dream is free for anyone to enjoy and consume at a moment’s notice. That’s the American brand power for those who recognize it around the world. And that’s what you’re getting when you travel. Again, it’s not you, brah. At least at first. So what’s the point of this article? It’s a long way around of saying that people around the world are now worried that Trump is wrecking their dream. Their America. Their escape. The mental paradise of millions, maybe billions around the world is being dismantled by this man. Why? Because America now looks just as corrupt, unjust and tyrannical as any country they may want to escape.
And if there’s no place on this planet to escape to – even mentally – then what’s America’s brand value?
Trump, just like all his failed casinos, is cashing in on America’s brand value. And that should worry all of us. Next time you drive up in that car (by now you should get that the metaphor of this luxury car is your U.S. passport), people won’t be so ‘nice’. Just saying, this is probably why.