American soccer fans keep constant vigil, waiting for signs that their beloved USA is creeping toward the moment when it casts off history's shackles and becomes a Great Footballing Nation. Generally, this watchful stance is expressed in excitement over new club youth-development schemes, national team performances ("we beat Guatemala again!"; "we almost played well in a friendly against a European team!"; "we fucking own Mexico, dude"; "...almost certain to qualify for 2010..."; "...best team in the hemisphere!"; etc.), excitement over Yanqui players signing contracts with Belgian clubs, that sort of thing. The particularly masochistic monitor MLS attendance figures on a week-to-week basis. Those who prefer the long view bide their time, waiting for various immigrant groups to deliver their demographic payload—there are, one hears, many promising young Bosnian-Americans on the way up.
But let's look at it a different way. In the last eight years, we've had:
—A tainted presidential election;
—A head of state who rests his authority on a weird cult of personality;
—A concerted, and in no way covert, effort to establish a de facto one-party political system;
—A couple of horrendously expensive, mismanaged, inconclusive (on a good day) wars;
—A few natural disasters that left major cities in Third World shambles;
—A full-tilt, debt-driven meltdown of the financial system;
—And I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
Lily-livered good-government types will look on this as a litany of woe. Soccer fans should rejoice. If this keeps up, we'll be the next Argentina in no time, churning under-fed creative midfielders out of our villas miserias by the score. As someone once said, poverty is good for nothing—except for football. And what else do you need? Health care?