The HBO television show "The Newsroom" started with this monologue to open its program.
The character, news anchor Will McAvoy portrayed by Jeff Daniels, is asked this question by a college student:
Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?
After a couple of bland answers, Will McAvoy unleashes this tirade.
It's not the greatest country in the world, professor, that's my answer.
Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants. It doesn't cost money, it costs votes; it costs airtime, and column inches. You know why people don't like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?
And with a straight face, you're gonna tell students that America's so star-spangled awesome, that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom?
Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. [laughs]
So 207 sovereign states in the world, like a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.
And yeah, you, sorority girl.
Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there's some things you should know, and one of them is, there's absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world.
We're 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number 4 in labor force, and number 4 in exports.
We lead the world in only 3 categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined. 25 of whom are allies.
Now, none of this is the fault of a 20 year old college student. But you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst-period-generation-period-ever-period.
So when you ask, "what makes us the greatest country in the world?" I dunno know what the fuck you're talking about.
We sure used to be.
We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons.
We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were.
And we never beat our chest.
We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy.
We reached for the stars, acted like men.
We aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior.
We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in our last election.
And we didn't... we didn't scare so easy.
We were able to be all these things, and to do all these things, because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered.
First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
This speech is good reminder about what we are now.
Celebrating our independence and enjoying some cookout and fireworks is the perfect time to reflect on that we should be striving to be the best country world again.