Chevy Cuts Deep
“America’s founding ideal was the principle of individual rights. Nothing more—and nothing less. The rest—everything that America achieved, everything she became, everything “noble and just,” and heroic, and great, and unprecedented in human history—was the logical consequence of fidelity to that one principle. The first consequence was the principle of political freedom, i.e., an individual’s freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by the government. The next was the economic implementation of political freedom: the system of capitalism.” – Ayn Rand
In this advertisement, Chevrolet is attempting to be excused for it’s notoriously unpopular and characteristically unAmerican acceptance of government money. “America” is not an aggregate of particular traditions or institutions – or folk dances or cooking styles – it is the result of the individual’s commitment to individual rights. A to-a-man refusal to let one’s own rights be violated and a principled respect for the rights of others; no matter how tempting or desperate the situation might be. America would be America regardless of what it’s citizens choose to do with their lives, so long as they adhere to the principle of individual rights. When they do not, it is not “America.” When Chevrolet claims that the government must violate the rights of other Americans to keep it in business, under the excuse that it is “too big to fail”, or now that it is “deep” in America’s identity, the people who comprise Chevrolet are not being Americans. They are enemies of America – just the same as foreigners who explicitly do not believe in it’s ideals. They do not deserve an exception because they “aren’t just any car company, they are Chevrolet”; they deserve to have their rights taken away.
To be an American means to hold certain political principles, and to hold political principles – any political principles – one must be equipped with the ability to conceptualize at a fairly high level. This is precisely the skill that most people today who call themselves Americans lack; and that is what this commercial exploits. Instead of thinking deeply about what America is, Chevrolet asks the audience to focus on the superficial similarities shared by Americans (it’s culture and romanticized history), and to ignore the principles which should define them, and then unite them, as Americans. What is particularly dishonest about this commercial is that in doing so – with it’s genuine music, it’s appeal to history, and it’s use of morally-loaded concepts like “integrity” – is that it gives the impression to the viewer that he has thought deeply about what America is when he actually hasn’t.
The commercial claims that “today the American character is no less strong [than when Chevrolet went into business].” If so, then why would Chevrolet think that such a dishonest commercial would actually work?