What are the American Values?

As an afterthought to the numerous political threads, I wanted to get a poll from all of you:

What does it mean to you to be an American? What are the American Values? And if you’re not American, what do you think the American Values are? Do you think Americans are themselves blind to some value that they represent?

As for me, I think being American stands for:[ul][li]Costco and credit cards and purchasing a weeks worth of dill picklesDomination of the strong, Justice for the weak[/li][li]Representative Democratic Capitalism[/li][li]Cynical optimists[/li][li]1003 channels and still nothing on[/li][li]Corporate Media and Clear Channel[/li][li]Politicians who owe and the lobbyists who love them[/li][li]Neighbors who’ll help you in a pinch[/li][li]Same neighbor flipping you the bird on the highway[/li][li]Sprawling roads and driving conditions[/li][li]The ability to pick up and move and change one’s life[/li][li]Upward mobility to those who work for it[/li][li]Engineering and technical know-how[/li][li]Litigation and threats of war[/li][li]Failed education and loud opinions[/li][li]Mistrust of government and trust in people[/li][li]Minimal racism (comparatively) and the inability to talk about it[/li][li]Choice and openness of relationships[/li][li]Constitutional liberties and the Bill of Rights[/li][li]Great founding fathers and foolish presidents[/li][li]On the right side of the big wars and the wrong side of the small ones[/li][li]International Ignorance and Manifest Destiny[/ul][/li]

Sociologists place the U.S. very high on the “individual” as opposed to the “group” mentality – in fact, the most individual-oriented country.

The U.S. also ranks high on materialism, on following the strict letter of the law, and on being low context in communication style (that is, the words are more important than their setting.)

Interesting. And come to think of it, I can’t really imagine what it would be like otherwise.

Poppycock and balderdash. Americans are the exact opposite. We have a few basic principles and extrapolate from there. It is the Europeans and the rest of the world who are of the mentality to follow the laws to the letter, this stem from the often arbitrary and capricious nature of governments that are far more involved in their lives then most Americans would allow. Alexis DeTocqueville was among the first to recognize this.

Speaking of which, if you want to really understand what is different about Americans from the rest of the world, you need not look any farther than Alexis DeTocqueville’s Democracy in America. It is about 200 years old, but the virtually everything still holds. The man was frighteningly prescient, to get an idea of how so skip to the very end and read the last three or four paragraphs, it will shock you. He was also the last Frenchman to leave here liking the place.

This is very true. I have heard that American businessmen often have an especially hard time communicating with their Asian counterparts because of it.