THE United States of America is a difficult country to love these days. I’ve historically been heavily pro-American, recognising that the weight of the US’s benefits is considerably heavier than that of its faults. But the America of 2020 tests my sentiments. And I am writing this article as a reminder to myself that it’s a test which must be passed.

Monday will mark three months until the 59th Presidential election, where former Vice President Joe Biden, having first attempted to win the Democratic nomination over 30 years ago, will attempt to evict Donald Trump from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Polling is increasingly trending towards a win for the deeply uninspiring Mr Biden but, then, at this point in the cycle four years ago polling also pointed towards Hillary Clinton.

So, we may end up with another four years of President Trump. He is a truly appalling President – a stain on the office. This is, in part, because of his actions, which could on their own fill several newspaper columns. Primarily, however, the trouble with Trump stems from his lack both of intellectual capacity and intellectual curiosity. America has had poor Presidents before; never, though, has it had one who lacks this most basic toolkit for the job.

If he wins again, it will be a gloomy day for America, and a gloomy day for the world. But it will not be the end of the world, because the Presidency is stronger than the President.

And we should – all of us – be thankful for that. Because we need the United States of America.

Anti-Americanism is rife, here in the UK and across the world. Its source, at the moment, is President Trump and Black Lives Matter, but anti-American sentiment has been mushrooming for most of this century, whether the hatred has been hung on capitalism, or Abu Ghraib, or the failure to sign Kyoto, or gun control, or a list of other things.

These are genuine complaints. Real issues. But they are not sufficient grounds to ignore the upsides. And so this anti-Americanism should stop. For what Ameri-sceptics fail to understand, consciously or unconsciously, is that we are all in debt to the world’s only free superpower. We need a strong, engaged America and what its existence offers us economically, militarily, morally and culturally.

And here’s why.

The US’s most important role in the world is as the chief promoter and defender of democracy and freedom. We, the rest of the free world, require it to perform this role, now, as the counterweight to Chinese autocracy, just as we needed it to perform during the Cold War against communism, just as we needed it to perform in the 1940s against fascism.

Whilst it’s easy to find ways to criticise American intervention, it’s also easy to forget how different the lives of tens of millions of Europeans would be were the US to have sat on its hands. We in the UK may have forgotten what the intervention of President Reagan did to free tens of millions of eastern Europeans from the Iron Curtain’s socialism, but the beneficiaries themselves will not have such short memories. What would be the fate of the Bosniak Muslims without President Clinton’s action and creation of the Dayton Accords? And indeed, closer to home, in what state would our friends in Northern Ireland be were it not for the same President poking America’s nose into our business?

The measure of the might of this part-military, part-humanitarian, part-moral leadership is how much we miss it when it isn’t there. What might America have done in Rwanda to save the Tutsis, if President Clinton’s decision-making hadn’t been scarred by the calamity in Somalia? How might the global climate emergency look had President Obama applied the same restless vigour to that agenda as he did to his universal healthcare push?

We may not always like it, but the US is the world’s moral authority, and that is precisely what we need it to be. When America disengages, we all suffer.

It is also the world’s economic authority, and we need it to be that too. In student unions and on street demonstrations, pillorying capitalism is rather easy. As the old saying goes, if you’re not a socialist when you’re 20, you don’t have a heart. However let us remember the end of that tale: if you’re still a socialist when you’re 30, you don’t have a brain.

Capitalism may need to undergo a tinker from time to time, and indeed it will almost certainly need to evolve in the wake of coronavirus. However its intrinsic brilliance should not be dimmed. It remains the greatest system of economic management and wealth redistribution the world has ever seen, or likely ever will, and the US is its captain.

Capitalism is not about billionaires or tax-evaders or private islands. Those are a fact of life, and nowhere is the gap between rich and poor larger than it is in the communist states we still see scattered around Asia, Africa and the Americas.

No, capitalism is about jobs. How many readers work for an American or American-owned company, or a company that is invested in by the Americans? It must be a good number – after all US investment in the UK amounts to some $800 billion.

Jobs mean tax. Tax means hospitals and doctors, schools and teachers, police, pensions and pothole repairs. To fall in love with capitalism, you only need to look at where we’d be without it.

Capitalism is inextricably linked to American culture, and this is a combination on which we have all come to depend, and most of us have come to love. All of our lives reflect this.

If during lockdown you’ve binged on Netflix or dropped the kids in front of Disney+, you can thank America. If Amazon deliveries allowed you and others to ‘stay home, protect the NHS and save lives’, America did that for you. You probably watched or ordered these things on an iPhone or iPad, both courtesy of America. And did you head straight for McDonald’s when the drive thru reopened?

You can’t simultaneously like the outcomes but despise the process and the producer. This is America. All of it. It has the power to amaze and shock, to delight and repulse, to love and to hate.

Trump is temporary. But, thank goodness, the United States of America is permanent.

•Andy Maciver is Director of Message Matters

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