If we’re not going to be America any more, what should we call ourselves?


The Washington Post had a nice piece over the weekend about the recent history of U.S. immigration policy (“Open doors, slamming gates: The tumultuous politics of U.S. immigration policy“). It began with this anecdote:

In his farewell address to the nation in 1989, President Ronald Reagan told the story of a Navy sailor patrolling the South China Sea who came upon a “leaky little boat” crammed with refugees from Indochina trying to find a way to America.

“Hello, American sailor,” a man in the boat shouted up to the Navy vessel. “Hello, freedom man.” Reagan couldn’t get that moment out of his mind because of what it said about what the United States meant — to those who live here and to the rest of the world….

Well, as of the election of Donald Trump, that’s not what America means — to the world, or to Americans. “America” is what we used to be. At least at the moment, we’re not that any more.

Which raises the question: If we’re no longer America, what should we call ourselves?

Here are some possibilities, if we can get around any copyright considerations. I’m going with names that already have certain connotations in the public imagination, in order to speed up the branding process:

  1. Lower Slobbovia — This one has a certain feel to it that seems to capture where Trump is determined to take the country. It was coined by Al Kapp of “Li’l Abner” fame, and as Wikipedia notes has come to invoke “a place which is underdeveloped, socially backward, remote, impoverished or unenlightened,” or “any foreign country of no particular distinction.” You know, a place that is in no way exceptional. Which seems perfect, if we can get the rights to it.

    Rufus T. Firefly dreaming up fresh mayhem for Freedonia.

    Rufus T. Firefly dreaming up fresh mayhem for Freedonia.

  2. Freedonia — In “Duck Soup,” this was the insignificant country governed by a crude, ill-mannered clown named Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx). I’ll leave it to you to draw the parallel. Also, this should appeal to the Tea Party crowd, since early on, some Americans actually considered calling this country by a variant of that name.
  3. Elbonia — The fictional country from “Dilbert” is “ruled by presidential dictatorship,” and its main export is mud.
  4. Bizarro America — Inspired by Superman comics. The Bizarro World is a place where everything is the reverse of what it is on this planet. Up is down, wrong is right, etc. Again quoting Wikipedia, “‘Bizarro World’ has come to mean a situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite to expectations.” The name would announce to the world that America is now the opposite of what it was.
  5. Tomainia — That’s the country in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.” But since this was a satire about Hitler’s Germany, we’ll probably have to avoid it so that people don’t start yelling “Godwin’s Law!” at us, the way they always do.

Those are my suggestions. Any others out there?


28 thoughts on “If we’re not going to be America any more, what should we call ourselves?

    1. Claus

      Those who love this country will call it America, those who don’t area free to leave. There are rules in place for coming into this country, there are none for leaving.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        You’re missing the point, Claus — it’s the people who love America and what it stands for who utterly reject what your guy is doing to it…

        1. Claus

          Those same people who say they love this country but hid behind black hoodies and face masks while rioting? The same idiots who scream at the police until someone tries to smack some sense into them and then they’re screaming for the police?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Nope. Not those people.

            In fact, I’ve made it pretty clear over the years that I don’t think much of even peaceful street protests, much less the tiny minority of situations when it gets out of hand.

            I feel about people like, say, Occupy Wall Street about the same way I think of Trump supporters….

  1. Karen Pearson

    Right now, I must be concerned about those who have legal permanent residency. These people are still being detained despite the judge’s ruling, although that should be abating. Apparently Mr. Trump has no problem at least detaining these folks for hours, and questioning them about family, beliefs, and business in the USA. Before, it’s been mostly talk, but now Trump is starting to actually infringe upon folks’ rights. And the very bad joke is that most of the terrorists who have launched attacks in the USA were not immigrants, but home-grown folks who have been attracted to ISIL’s ideology. If we become a nation who revoke’s peoples’ rights, not based on any actual criminal behavior on their part, but only on their place of origin we’ll be worse than Lower Slobovia. We certainly won’t be any “shining city.”

    1. Bill

      It’s also worth mentioning that the ban apparently doesn’t just apply to citizens who are living IN the 7 countries now under restriction, it also applies to dual-nationals as well, no matter where they live. So, for example, if you have dual British and Iraqi citizenship, you’re also shut out. That adds hundreds of thousands if not millions more to the lockout.

      1. Richard

        Which is why I don’t understand how dual-citizenship works. It’s virtually impossible to live exactly in two countries at one time. Six months plus one day equals your country of citizenship.

        1. Bill

          Here’s one way it works: mama’s from one country and papa’s from a different country. Mama and papa get together and have a baby and, voilá!: dual national ! See, so easy!

          1. Claus

            Not so fast, according to the law a baby is a citizen of the country it’s born in… which is the reason behind the anchor baby problem.

    2. Mark Stewart

      This cracked me up:

      U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tim Scott (R-SC) issued the following joint statement regarding the President’s executive order:
      “After reviewing the recent Executive Orders, it is clear to us that some of what is being said and reported about the scope and implications of these measures is misleading. However, it is also clear that the manner in which these measures were crafted and implemented have greatly contributed to the confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of the last few days.
      We generally support additional vetting for many of those entering our country from nations where the United States has identified there are serious concerns regarding terrorist activities and planning. But given the broad scope and nature of these policy changes, we have some unanswered questions and concerns.
      We are seeking clarity on the changes to the Visa Waiver program, which is critical to the economies of our respective states.
      And we are uneasy about the potential impact of these measures on our military and our diplomatic personnel abroad, as well as those who put their lives on the line to work with us.
      We are both committed to doing what we must to keep America safe. We are equally committed to the defense of religious liberty and our tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution. Like so many Americans, we are both guided by our belief that when we stand before our Creator to face judgment, He will say that ‘to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
      That is why we intend to do all we can to both keep America safe, and keep America special.”

      Here is Tim Scott’s moment to rise to the occasion in support of those being trampled as if 3/5ths citizens – ie, as having no rights under our Constitution. Jeff Duncan came out in support of the President’s executive order. The rest of the SC Republicans – except Lindsey – are laying low.

      I know they are politicians, but this is not about choosing sides. It’s about what does it mean to be the United States of America?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        They are being SO cautious. Everyone but Graham and McCain, that is.

        I heard a GOP House member being interviewed on The Takeaway this morning. He was trying to sound reasonable, and was succeeding. He was being SO diplomatic, SO cautious in saying what he thought about what was happening.

        It was actually kind of refreshing — hearing a member of Congress thinking carefully before he speaks, and trying to be fair to everyone while being principled.

        In that regard, maybe Trump has had a good effect. But it was cold comfort…

  2. Norm Ivey

    Whatever we are, please don’t call it “Trump’s America” as so many are doing. It’s my America. It’s OUR America. And there’s no “taking it back” like some wanted to do when Obama was elected. It’s already ours.

    The problem is that our new president is an authoritarian and ignorant about our values as a nation. I’m dismayed by the actions he’s taking against immigrants and to silence public servants–especially those with science credentials, but I am pleased with the way the courts and individuals are responding.

    I’ve had these lines from Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence running through my head all weekend:

    This is the end of the innocence
    O’ beautiful, for spacious skies
    But now those skies are threatening
    They’re beating plowshares into swords
    For this tired old man that we elected king

    I’m beginning to think that those who predict his impeachment may be right sooner rather than later. We’ll get through this–hopefully without him starting a war–but we must remain vigilant and vocal.

  3. Claus

    If Millenials don’t get out of their parent’s house and get to work we’ll just be known as West China in a few years.

      1. Claus

        Nope, you were asking about new names for this country… just gave a little background on one possibility.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Dang, nobody took me on on the “what we should call ourselves” thing.

    I guess nobody’s inclined to be light-hearted about this. Which is entirely understandable.

    Trump was funny when he was just this crazy guy who was obviously the least qualified candidate running for president. He was the comic relief.

    Now, not so much..

    1. Claus

      So, blame half the country for voting him into office. Basically you’re mad at 50% of the voting population and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it but whine.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Nope, it’s not whining. It’s me disagreeing with you. And I’m going to go on disagreeing with you until one of two things happens: a) you agree with me, or b) Donald Trump leaves office.

        If you don’t want to read what I have to say, don’t….

  5. Mark Stewart

    We still live in the United States of America. We’re just experiencing the high stakes that that has always meant, and that too many seem to have forgotten. Temporarily.

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