(THE GUARDIAN) -- One of the formative events shaping my views of the last decade's American political landscape was watching the 2004 Republican national convention. An expertly staged, supremely manipulative ritual of jingoism and leader-worship, I regarded it with an equal measure of awe and horror.
America's militarism was continuously exploited by speaker after speaker to glorify the commander-in-chief, George W Bush, as a brave and noble warrior for American Greatness. Each mention of war and killing prompted his delirious followers to erupt in the same boisterous crowd-chant: "USA, USA." Bush's opponent (and his supporters), by contrast, were vilified as soft-on-the-terrorists, troop-hating, America-despising weaklings who lacked the stomach to Keep Us Safe.