Comment: It's the Home of the Brave, but something is deeply rotten in the disunited states of America, writes Rob Rattenbury.
We live in a world of uncertainty like nothing seen since the dark days of the Cold War when we all lived in the very real fear of nuclear annihilation.
It is different this time. The nuclear thing is still there but maybe not as fearful as it once was, but now we have global warming which is scary long term, international terrorism and a strong rise in nationalist style leadership around the world, the kind of leadership Mussolini and Hitler liked and we all know how that ended.
And then we have the United States of America, the most powerful democracy on the planet, the nation that gave us NASA, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, wonderful authors, artists and actors, huge industry, a military that has acted as the world's policeman since World War II.
It has given us far-sighted leadership, a home for the United Nations and last and by no means least Donald Trump.
I grew up in a time when America was respected and admired by most New Zealanders. Our parents and grandparents spoke fondly of the American troops who were stationed here during the war while our fighting division was in North Africa and Italy.
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During the war New Zealand lived in fear of invasion by Japan. The American boys came here to train and to protect us if needed. They also warmed the hearts of many New Zealand families whose boys were away fighting Hitler, many to never come home. They became our sons.
That was a long time ago and America has changed, as has New Zealand.
Then one day Donald Trump, a billionaire turned reality show host, turned around and found himself president. He then started governing by Twitter, attacking the nations who are America's friends and making friends with some nations who would love to destroy America.
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His madness is never-ending and America really does not know what to do about him as they have never had such a President before. He is, in my opinion, truly dangerous.
I believe America is at war with itself like it has not been for a long time. If some American-sourced news is to be believed another civil war is possible if Trump is ousted from office.
American friends, both Republican and Democrat, have described how polarising the two parties now are. Family members from both sides often do not talk any more. If this is happening in average American families, what can happen across that great nation?
I have never met an American I have not liked, well, except one who tried to kick me in the soft bits when I was arresting her for trying to stab her friend back in the early 80s.
I grew up visiting the American warships and coastguard vessels who regularly called at Wellington. American sailors with their distinctive white "Gob" hats were a common sight in our capital city.
As a cop in the 1970s I worked with American Shore Patrols regularly and found them great guys to work with.
I love the way Americans talk, especially the New York and southern states accents. I love it that Americans are so verbose. They will take 200 words to say what I can say in about 50 and I like the sound of my own voice. I love how they love my country and how I talk, apparently using such odd terms, including many Māori words we as Kiwis take for granted.
I find their lack of world geographical knowledge interesting and charming, but then as a native of a small island nation at the bottom of the world, forever looking outwards, I understand.
I admire Americans for their deep and openly declared patriotism. They are, mostly, an amiable and endearing lot who I enjoy spending time with. They also have the best teeth in the world.
The American people are very much like us, just people struggling to make ends meet, raise their children with the best education they can afford, have dreams and aspirations, worry about paying the bills, worry about employment, annoyed with their political employees for being what they are, fret over healthcare and getting old. They are now also worried that the country they love so dearly is slowly falling apart politically.
Trump will not go easy. I believe he could stay for a second term unless impeachment gets him this term which seems unlikely in a Republican-dominated Senate or upper house with a requirement of at least two thirds of the 100 senators voting for impeachment.
Trump is, in my opinion, a bullying narcissist who is untruthful all the time. He is simply an awful human being playing to the fears and insecurities of people who believe they are excluded from the "American Dream".
Americans know this. America is better than this.
• Rob Rattenbury is a retired police officer and a social and political commentator based in Whanganui.