COMMENT:

I love America.

I also love that the US electoral system worked last week. The Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, which will curb some of President Donald Trump's power.

The US system's built-in constraints on executive power are a fine thing.

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But regardless of the result, I was already writing this column.

Last week I analysed Trump's economic policies. In doing so I felt compelled to note that I find him and his personal political style distasteful.

It's hardly a radical stance in this era but I copped an angry backlash from some readers who accused me of being anti-American.

That annoyed me.

It's because I love America that I am critical of the current President.

And its tolerance for criticism of its President is one of the things I love about America.

Like many New Zealanders I've grown up steeped in American culture.

I'm listening to James Brown's Living in America while I write this.

I might listen to Jimi Hendrix play the Star Spangled Banner next, or maybe Elvis' American Trilogy.

As an obsessive music fan, American culture has helped defined me.

I love the jazz, the soul, and the rock n roll, the hip hop, folk and even the country.

I grew up on diet of US sitcoms, cartoons and action shows.

Some my earliest memories revolve around TV shows like The Flintstones, Batman, Welcome Back Kotter and heavier stuff like Roots.

I love the writing — the gonzo journalism, the novels and the poets.

I once owned an epic Mad magazine collection which instilled me with a healthy American disrespect for authority.

Captain America is my favourite Marvel Avenger. And he's only my second favourite cinematic Captain America.

My favourite is Peter Fonda's Captain America chopper in Easy Rider — a film that provides a reminder that deep divisions between urban and rural America are nothing new.

Like make most people I tend to take American science and technology for granted.

But the US still sets the technological course for the world.

Despite plenty of examples to the contrary — it is a nation packed with intelligent, educated and innovative people.

America's embrace of immigrants is famously recognised as one its great assets. It is a great melting pot of cultures, full of conflicts and tensions, that has driven social progress and change.

I studied American politics and culture at university: Manifest destiny, the Western migration, the golden age of capitalism, the beat generation and the upheaval of the 1960s.

I've dived into the free-market libertarianism of writers like PJ O'Rourke.

I visited Wall Street and the World Trade Center.

I stared at my TV screen in horror on the day the towers fell.

As a journalist I've been hosted by the US state department — who showed me around New York, Washington DC and the heartland of Kansas and Missouri.

I've visited visit the US Federal Reserve.

I went up to Seattle to see Boeing's Dreamliner unveiled, I've been to Nebraska to see Warren Buffett address his stadium-sized AGM.

And I've sweated in the queues at Disneyland with my kids.

It's true that America can be a violent place. It was built by brutal colonisation and slavery.

It hasn't solved the problems caused by it history but — until recently at least — it was being honest about them.

Honesty is one of America's great virtues.

Americans are polite but they are not afraid to say what they think.

"Truth, justice and the American way" — that's Superman's catch-cry.

Sadly it doesn't seem to be the current President's.

In my view Trump has cynically and deliberately undermined the notion of truth in US politics.

Newsweek's fact checkers reported last week that he was lying 30 times a day on average as the Midterms approached.

He claims it's the media that is making this stuff up of course.

Ok, this is a bit of a rant now.

But my dislike of Trump doesn't make me un-American. It puts me on the same page as millions of proud Americans.

Opposing a US President is as American as apple pie.

As much as I am pleased for the many millions of Americans who successfully voted to put a check on the President's domestic powers, the Midterms may yet have serious ramifications for New Zealand.

If he's hamstrung at home, Trump is likely to pay more attention to areas where he has executive power.

That means foreign policy and trade. And that's why we should pay attention to US politics for more than just curiosity's sake.

Let's face it. New Zealand will be in an awkward position if it is forced to make a political choice between the US, with which we share so much cultural affinity, and China, now our largest export market.

As long as Trump is in power our politicians will have to tread a cautious path — maybe for another six years.

If Trump continues to rally his base and successfully blames the Democrats for political gridlock, he'll be hard to beat in 2020.

But the upside is that those of us not involved in subtle diplomacy will get to keep saying what we want about him.

That's the American way. God bless them for it.