• P C
  • Miami, FL
  • United States

This conversation is closed.

Non-American views on American politics

There is a big dichotomy in American politics between domestic and foreign policy. Often most of our elections tend to be about domestic issues. As an American, I find it fascinating to see non-Americans discuss our politics.

In your view, what is America doing right? Is there something we do that you wish your own country would do better?

Likewise, what are we doing wrong? What is something that your country does that America can learn from?

Are there certain countries that do things well that both of our own countries can learn from?

When discussing American politics, is there something about it that connects back to you?

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    Jun 29 2012: Every country has issues. Yours just happens to be the most powerful economic, cultural and military power on Earth. Well done on that by the way.

    I'm a Colbert and the Daily show sympathiser.

    What US does well: Well parts of your founding documents are genius. And only one constitution in 300 years. How many have the French been through. No establishment of state religion. Some incredible enlightenment values. No cruel and unusual punishmLife liberty and pursuit of happiness (D of I) - pure genius. Silicon valley.

    Pity about the bare arms thing but the founding fathers probably didn't foresee automatic weapons, the NRA and had just fought off an imperialistic power. Good work.

    Not so good - Concentration of wealth - wealth inequality, corporations as people, money politics, so many homeless and poor in such a rich country. Parts of Europe went overboard on welfare etc. US is at the other extreme. Please be careful what wars you jump into as we will be a few of us dying alongside usually. And tax people more when there is a war on. Everyone should pay. Rent seeking and lack of regulation on industry and markets. Tax. Rich people should not pay less tax % than poorer people. You can do better than torturing/water boarding people. The death penalty. Christian politics the idea the US is a Christian nation. Do these people understand the first amendment. You liberals are too soft and get bulldozed by the republicans.

    Australia has compulsory voting. New Zealand is voluntary but 3/4 turn up. I'm not sure why so low in the US. Perhaps so unfair people give up.

    I've spent a lot of time in the US. Have family there. There seem to be at least 2 Amercias. The E & W Coasts and Portland and the rest. Also the social and financial separation along racial lines was palatable. We share a bit of that.

    I have a list twice as long for Australia, but when I compare both our countries against many others I would be happy to be born here or there before many many many others
  • Jul 21 2012: I admire your way of thinkng. If all the people in the world concentrate their efforts in understanding the other people the world will be a different place. Returning to the question, in my opinion the world political,social and economic model is changing very rapidly and the US has to make adaptations for this times. Every proposed model, social, economical or political has to include a social responsibility factor. It includes internal and external policies since I know the average american is also suffering this change.
  • Jul 24 2012: The economic condition of latin america is changing and the way they see north american policies and the US economic model is changing for good. They are learning the rules of capitalism and they are taking advantage of that. They are in competence for everything. Governments are giving excellent packages to professionals in the US to relocate to their countries and start new bussines. Every day, they become less tolerant with poor performers, even in the government. In some countries the highways have radar detectors and cameras everywere. I see on the TV one man arrested and processed for not pay a highway toll. At the same time they are also copying the high consumerism model. I'm not saying that their economies are excellent, but their countries are on positive growth and they like it.
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    Jul 22 2012: I live in the shadow of the United States and as a Canadian I am certain I know far more about your country, your governemnt and your history than you do about mine. On another thread, I delineated to Bob some of the wonderful things your country does well. I really hate that you do not respect your boundaries politically but i usually adore your people. I have often said that "Americans at home are wonderful but tourists eveywhere are often rude.- that includes persons of most countries - even Canada. The United States and the actions of your country have a huge impact on my life. If, for example a law is defeated in the USA it is likely to pass in Canada because people with agendas usually study up on how it was defeated or promoted on your side of the boarder.
    Do you, for example have any idea of how many Canadians died in the Twin Towers? Are you aware that we believe that Alexsander Graham Bell was Canadian or that Basketball was invented by a Canadian. And what is this junk you all appear to believe that we are hiding in your shadow? How did Napolean or Hitler do against Russia? Do you really think we need American early warning or do you need warning from our turf t o protect the USA?
    • P C

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      Jul 23 2012: Canada's Prime Minister doesn't seem to have a constant media presence here, so it's very easy to lose track of who it is. What news and culture about Canada we get on a regular basis is the NPR show "As It Happens", and the occasional sound bite from the BBC or our media international correspondents. I probably know a lot more about Canada's culture than I do its government.

      I didn't know that our legislative failures are studied in Canada. That sounds like an area where we in turn can learn from you. If you know of any good place to find out more, please let me know.

      Regarding the Twin Towers; we don't really differentiate which nationalities died. It was a community that was attacked. There were people from at least 20 different countries who died there. We generally remember the group as a whole. It makes sense that Canadians would think about how many of their own died there.

      Alexander Graham Bell's was born in Scotland, but lived in the US and Canada. Sounds like we can all claim him in some way! Regarding basketball, all I know is that it was first played in Indiana with real baskets and that there's some connection with Converse sneakers somehow somewhere, but not much more than that.
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        Jul 23 2012: Basketball, invented by a canadian in the US. John Naismith was from Ontario I believe.
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          Jul 23 2012: Right but we believe he invented it in Toronto and then moved to the USA! Thanks Peter and Philip! 2 aware and 3 million to go!
    • Jul 24 2012: I travel a lot through the world due to my job and often see that type of rude behavior from tourists. I'm now in Brazil. I see one north american tourist scream to a restaurant employee because there was no scrambled eggs on the food tray. I gently talk with the employee but in my hart I feel ashamed of that conduct. I'm sure Canada is a great nation because its people. When I visit a country I learn their language, eat their food, hear their music and enjoy sharing.
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        Jul 24 2012: Dear Efrain, no country or nationality has a monopoly on good manners. I find that your approach works best for discovering the very best of a country and a people. We all respond far better to kindness than to cruelty. I feel ashamed of such conduct too, no matter where the person hales from. Brazil is a very exciting nation that I hope to visit one day and I promise to be polite.
        • Jul 24 2012: I'm not good in politics but I remember in the 80's when the Canadian people saves more than 50 US people and help them escape from Iran.
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    Jul 6 2012: The USA is an empire coming to an end.

    When Britain was an empire the majority of the home population were living in poverty and had no idea what riches their lords and masters were amassing through exploiting and murdering in most of the world.

    The USA became an empire in a more informed and relatively richer world but still exploits and murders at will in other countries while the home population has no idea why the nation can afford to do so whilst being unwilling, for example, to provide free healthcare to it's own citizens.

    Thankfully empires tend towards entropy and one day the US and UK will slide into a reality much like Portugal which was once the only superpower and is now a quiet backwater where people live normal lives!
    • Jul 9 2012: As an American, it sounds good to me. Sometimes I think we should put our aircraft carriers up for auction and let the world police itself without our "leadership."
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        Jul 9 2012: I agree Barry - I think we could probably manage very well without our murderous leaders!
        The Co-operative movements and Transition Town initiatives in UK and US and elsewhere are the beginnings of a way that humanity could manage itself. Farmers markets are huge in the US aren't they? I read somewhere recently that small farms outnumber agri-business farms for the first time in a long time.
        It's not just about food but I think if we can control our food/water supply along with energy and transport, we've got the means to manage. I worry about the cargo-cult that is present day capitalism; any challenge to the drive to make profits is actually described as communism!
        There was a Native American chief who said something like,'when all the fish and animals have gone, only then will you realise that you can't eat money'...
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      Jul 22 2012: As Mark Twain once said "The rumours of my death are greatly exagerated" or sometthing like that. We are still talking about the world's greatest and richest economy with its fingers in almost every pie. I do not expect it to disappear - at least in my lifetime but I think it might retract, regroup and revitalize - and we might all stand in awe again.
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    Jun 29 2012: I also wondered many times, why people of my country is so curious about US elections if not politics as a whole ?

    Answer is US poked nose almost everywhere being the moost powerful country in the current unipolar world.

    There are lot of good things about US as a whole keeping aside politics....i.e. right of individual, freedom of speech etc etc.
    From my country US can learn how to better handle natural disaster. Every year we have it multiple times , but with one or other cyclone in a decade US is unable to handle well......

    Discussing American politic reminds me Genocide 1971 in my country that was supported by US to happen even to support that tyranny US was about to send 7th fleet to our sea.
    It also reminds me femine of 1974 in my country, when US effectively used Food as Weapon.
    Military rule of country that got support always from US.
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    Jun 29 2012: As an Australian it amazes me that there is so much power concentrated in the President. Particularly with regard to the military. For example in AUS the Chief of the Defence Force (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) is apointed on a three year rotating basis by the Governer General who is the Queen's representative and is independant of the government. While the Prime Minister can deploy troops with the agreement of cabinet any action in the field is controlled by the chief of defence who doesn't take orders from the PM. Also we don't directly elect a PM he's more like the majority leader of congress so his personal power is constrained as he can be kicked out by his own party at any time. (Kevin Rudd). As a culture we also have a very different attitude to politicians. For example I can think of 5 or 6 monuments to US presidents but I can't name one monument to an AUS Prime Minister.
    • P C

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      Jun 29 2012: The more I study history of both the US and the UK, the more I realize that our system of government really was an experiment that no one thought would ever last, especially the men who wrote our constitution. The President has much of the same powers that an 18th century English king would have. Our government was based on an updated version of the Magna Carta and the English Commonwealth. LIke an English king of that era, the President is limited by the legislature's power of the purse, with the main addition of being rotated out in periodic terms. Historically the reason the President has been given so much power is because it was believed that our main external threat was from the UK and so he needed the ability to respond more quickly than Congress. However the stipulation is that his immediate powers were limited to a short period of time without a more comprehensive authorization that would come from a declaration of war. It really wasn't until after WW II that America changed its relationship with the rest of the world. The Cold War created a lof of exceptions to that rule.

      Likewise I wonder why Aussies still pledge allegiance to QE2? Would it be possible for your military to be controlled by her if her representative appoints the head of your military? Who does the chief of defence take orders from?

      We used to elect our president that way (I think he was appointed by our Senate) but we found that since he represents the people and speaks on their behalf as a whole nation, he should be chosen directly by the people. We tend to honor presidents with monuments or memorials that have achieved something great on behalf of the nation (i.e. founding, expansion, preservation, or a cultural/social improvement). I admit we went overboard with our monuments. It probably comes from Classical Greco-Roman influences. Australia doesn't seem to have ever bought into that mythos.
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        Jun 29 2012: I was thinking about writing something, that was partially about this phenomena called "America the Gaudi". One of the most beautiful human constructions I've ever seen is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and all around Barcelona you see these beautiful unique Gaudi architecture projects, and you know what, some of them go too far, they're a bit ugly, and disfunctional... But they're also unique, the man took risks.

        Back when America only had millionaires, we built the empire state building, the Sears Tower... and all of our various monuments. Now, we have billionaires, and can you name one really cool impressive building any of them have built? Is there one architect funded by a billionaire really stretching the bounds of reality with his designs? Not in the US.

        You know what giant monuments, and rediculous skyscrapers owned by powerful men do? They create a bunch of cool joe jobs. Jobs where you work hard, but your work is delicate, and important. Jobs, that when you're finished, last for centuries.

        I actually miss our eccentric obsession with ego a bit, here in the states. Just a thought.
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        Jun 29 2012: I don't pledge allegiance to the Queen. I'm Australian. As an Atheist I also refuse to sing the national anthem of my birth country - God Defend New Zealand. We used to sing God save the queen at school. Even worse. Not much fun being an atheism republican (in the anti monarchist sense).

        There was a referendum a few years back on Australia becoming a republic. So sad it did not make it. At the time more than half of the population wanted an Australian as head of state, just many did not like to model proposed where the politicians selected the replacement for the governor general (Queens Representative)

        Monarchy is bunk. Any systems that gives political power and entrenches imagined nobility by accident of birth is bunk.

        Viva la Republic, in my life time I hope. Time for Australia to grow up. Almost time. I have some respect for those for fought for king and country in WW2. Not many left now. And UK is Europe. Australia is Asia Pacific.

        Let the English keep their queen if they want. An Australian should be head of state.

        On the military side at least both our military's are subject to civilian control whether Westminster or US model. Not like Pakistan, Egypt, Burma even in Thailand the military run a huge business empire and are effectively a law unto themselves or they say their king these days after they killed his brother 60 years ago.
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          Jul 15 2012: I do see one advantage in our current system. The GG has some functions that are essentially ceremonial (like appointing chief of defence) which keeps politics out of it, to an extent anyway. If we do become a republic I would like to see the president elected by the people without involvement from the major parties. In the US I dont understand why the presidetial race needs to be Reps V Dems. Why not an independant President.
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        Jul 15 2012: RE QE2, we only still have a queen because we have made sure she has no real power to do anything. The queen's representative appoints the chief of defence but the chief takes orders from the prime minister through cabinet. Though complex the system does mean that there is very little chance of the PM having undue influence over the military as he has to deal with a chief of defence that he didn't chose. Regarding the monuments, I think Australians have a very different attitude to politicians. Afterall we did start as a penal colony so authority figures are viewed with a high level of suspicion.