It's interesting to try to get a fix on America in the lead up to the 2016 Presidential elections.
The first impression is the importance of celebrity. The Donald Trump run at the Presidential nomination is surely more about showbiz than substance. The Donald seems to be ahead in the Republican sweepstakes more on the basis of his celebrity, rather than rational arguments or proof of policy analysis.
The following is a showbiz analysis of the showbiz appeal of Donald Trump:
Then there's religion. Yes, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to give marriage licences to same sex marriage celebrants was released from jail after her conviction for contempt of court. But Kim Davis was greeted on her release by cheering crowds. This is despite the fact that Christians don't have a monopoly on marriage, nor how it should be celebrated.
Religion, particularly fundamentalist Christian religion, is deeply embedded in American society, especially in the Republican party. It's even embedded in the High Court of the USA, following political appointments by Republican presidents.
America has never resolved the question of how to separate the powers of church and state.
But probably the most amazing influence on American politics is the National Rifle Association. The NRA has donated money to the election campaigns of over 100 sitting member of Congress.
The power of the NRA and its aggressive defence of Second Amendment rights has resulted in a succession of American presidents not prepared to ban the sale of assault weapons in all states, nor prepared to close loopholes in the law that allow weapons to be sold without background checks in 33 states at gun shows.
It's a strange mixture. Showbiz, religion and gun culture. But that's America.
All of this would be merely interesting, if it were not for the fact that the President of the United States, representing all of these conflicting interests, is the most powerful man in the world.
The problem for the rest of the world is that America doesn't keep these extreme approaches/attitudes within its own borders. No matter how altruistic American presidents are, showbiz, religion and gun culture are also likely to find their way into American foreign policy.
Not all presidents represent all three, but all three inflence all presidents.