Americans are constantly trying to redefine the "American Psyche". This is an ever-changing idea of what Americans should believe in and support. Although it is ever-changing, there are generally two extremes to the spectrum of American ideology. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, these two extremities are perfectly captured by the characters Huck and Tom.
George Saunders explains the stark contrast between the two and calls them "The United States of Huck" and "The United States of Tom". He details some of the differences between the two when he says, "Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders. Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes. Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies". Huck is obviously the favorable version of America, but, unfortunately, America is more Tom than Huck.
The United States of Huck looks at an obstacle and sees the positives. He finds the solutions and is always optimistic in doing so. On the contrary, the United States of Tom sees a predicament, and instead of looking for solutions, can only comment on the problem itself. Tom is more confident than Huck, but often times, this confidence leads to indifference for those around him and an overall air of self-centeredness.
The real America is predominantly Tom with faint undertones of Huck. America likes to present these undertones to the rest of the world, so that it is viewed as a model nation that wants the best for everyone. Lots of people who come to America from other countries think of it this way, and are forced to deal with the reality that this is not in fact the driving force behind America. This deception and trickery is exactly what Tom would do; if the best way to gain power is by telling people you're not trying to gain power, Tom will sell that ideology without hesitation.
While most Americans would like to believe that they live in the United States of Huck, the reality of it is that the battle between Huck and Tom is unlikely to cease, and Tom has been winning the fight since America's beginnings.