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Discussion in 'Politics' started by B_lrgeggs, Jun 3, 2011.
Whose to blame....Republicans or Democrats....let the fireworks begin!
We don't really need to intentionally incite partisan bickering, do we?
Neither. From the British side of the pond the USA seems to be in semi-permanent election mode with both main parties more interested in scoring points off one another than co-operating. The system is to blame. Our coalition is quite a new idea in the UK, but it is the political equivalent of Republicans and Democrats deciding they can work together in the national interest.
Seconded. There's enough blame to go around if we want to look at the entire picture, and it's more about specific individuals within the political parties... not just one party in general. I'm not saying both parties are equally guilty, but considering the amount of people involved nobody really needs to beat their chest in support of Democrats or Republicans on this subject matter.
I'm sorry, did I say blame?....I meant give credit to.
LOL. Yet another seizing of a dubious opportunity to blow the nationalistic horn and dig at the sorry Yanks. A truly impressive sustained effort.
SilverTrain, you know you I agree with you on most things and I respect your viewpoint, so this isn't a dig at you or your comment. I just want to give you a different perspective.
I lived in the UK and worked for another UK-based outfit for a few years after I returned to the States. I still spend two or three weeks over there every year and I worked out of London on a project for a little over a month last fall. What Jason is expressing is the general attitude among the Brits who 'watch' US politics. I don't perceive it as an opportunistic dig. In the last 24 hours, I had four different connections on LinkedIn who are all Brits and live in the UK and Europe send me messages with a copy of the NYT editorial from yesterday titled "Playing with Matches on the Debt".
They all said more or less the same thing: 'when are your political parties going to learn to work together?' [The editorial is worth a read if you didn't see it.] At the same time, my friends note (like Jason) that cooperation between two parties is still a new thing in the UK. After experiencing both systems, I can tell you the biggest difference between the UK and the US when it comes to politics is one of marketing: we're just much better at it. (Well, that and the fact that election processes are more sane in the UK.) Unfortunately, I think it will be worse than ever this election cycle because of the Citizens United v FEC ruling by the Supreme Court in January 2010.
So, Jason is merely pointing out what those outside of the United States see pretty clearly: our election cycle is so long that it seems semi-permanent and nearly every major action, misstep, speech, court ruling, and election result is cast and recast in terms of the upcoming election regardless of how far away the election is. Since we have that much visibility on those events, every one of them becomes 'significant' to someone because of the competition between the parties. So, with that much rhetoric going on, is it any surprise very few elected officials have time to find common ground and work collaboratively?
I appreciated Jason's comment and this is when I wish more Americans could see how we're viewed overseas. (It's not positive and I'm sure that doesn't surprise any of us in this Forum.) But if the average American could just see the political sphere from outside of it instead of participating in it, I think we'd get change. I think that 'different viewpoint' might cause us to collectively ask our elected officials to grow up and do the job they were hired to do.
Just this morning, I watched Mitt Romney's announcement that he was running for President... and the speech highlights that get published as well as broadcast? His ideas? His message of 'hope'? No. It was his trashing of President Obama:
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I don't disagree with any of that at all.
My previous comment, however, stands. It had nothing to do with the issue at hand, per se.
So it was just a personal shot eh?
S&P issued a similar warning two months ago. Moody's and other's are following the debit crisis and the "debate", closely but are worried that the usual reckless grandstanding is going to derail anything constructive from getting done.
I agree that U.S. politics seems to be in permanent election mode and that this is resulting in a gridlock that blocks any compromise that could lead to action for the public good. I don't think it is a systemic problem in the structure of government in the U.S. though. I think it is a result of the 24/7 cable news cycle that amps up any and every political event in the quest for ratings and advertising dollars. A politician can't pick his nose without it being broadcast nationwide and dissected twelve different ways 'round the clock until the next big earth shattering event. This results in a) politics only being played for the cameras and b) the practitioners being scared to death to be in any significant way creative or independent. Couple that with an educational system that has long since given up teaching any real understanding of civics and it's no surprise we see the likes of Ms Bachmann in Congress or Trump and Palin being taken seriously. American pols are to scared and too busy saving their own butts to do the nation's business in serious way.
Hence the rest of the world looking in askance at what is going on over there. Serious economic and fiscal problems and yet everyone is breathless over Sarah Palin's fucking bus tour. I for one have moved on. As much as I like the USA, the future is in the BRIC group and a few other places.
Is that your mod hat you're wearing when you make a sarcastic comment like that? Were you "moderating", or were you just acting as a member?
You want to characterize my comment as a "personal shot"? I find that rather interesting, in that I was commenting on the latest in a long line of posts that are blatantly "the UK is so wonderful and the US sucks muchly". Many of said posts falling in the midst of threads that concern neither British nor American societal developments.
Perhaps since you yourself take many opportunities to let us all know how little you think of the US, my comment was especially egregious.
I think vince fears for the US.
Like a lot of us.
Your political system has become dysfunctional.
Democrats and Republicans were always partisan, but in the background there used to be a sense that there were larger national interests that necessarily trumped partisan ones.
I think that disappeared when Clinton was elected ... not Clinton's doing, but the enraged response of Republicans cherishing the illusion that the political centre had shifted under Reagan and G.H.W. Bush and they were now the natural governing party.
But at this point, it doesn't matter how it began.
The game has taken hold of both parties.
You're flirting with political and economic disaster, you all know it, and it seems unclear that anything will be done about it.
This will affect the whole world.
But forget the whole world.
it's painful enough to see this affecting only the United States ... once (sporadically) a light unto the nations, but more and more seeming something smaller.
It's an agonizing thing to see.
Right, whatever. Going off topic to take someone to task for his past comments when what he wrote in this thread is completely germane to the issue, is what? How would you characterize your reply to Jason? As you wrote-
What else are we suppose to take away from that?
Sorry if your nationalist feelings were hurt by some outside viewpoints. I guess hHuck must be in the same bag.
btw- moderators are allowed to have opinions too.
If I can advocate for a second... I know exactly what SilverTrain is getting at. It does get tiring reading what seems like a lot of Euro-based or North-of-the-border commentators taking a great big dump on our country without ever having been here. You guys know what I'm talking about because you've seen it: no substantiation, no facts, just pure anti-American sentiments and ridiculous conjectures.
Not two weeks ago, some dude from Europe was trying to lecture me about how the Federal Reserve System works. Absenting the fact that he clearly didn't understand it -- which is okay since it mystifies most Americans -- and also absenting the fact that he didn't understand Timothy Geithner's role in it (which was the point of his post), he presented this Euro superiority complex as he explained the 'problems' with America. He further claimed in rebuttal to my challenges of his opinions that "high speed internet" (yes, his words) means he can be as up to date as anybody else in the world on any topic. Ah... to be 22 again and 'know everything'.
So... you guys can appreciate how situations like that don't exactly 'warm up' an American audience for non-American commentary on American issues. There is some pretty blatant anti-Americanism that shows up in posts from time-to-time and I don't think it has a place here. Sometimes, those of us who have been exposed to a little too much of that anti-Americanism and sniping react too strongly. I get that. I'm guilty of it. I guess I take solace in the fact that at least I'm consistent, but you have to understand: it's my country you're talking about. You might as well call my mother a whore because I will staunchly defend my country just like I'd defend her honor.
At the end of the day, I like reading 99% of the comments and observations I see in the Politics Forum. I enjoy hearing how people who aren't like me perceive issues that affect me. And sometimes through these Threads, we actually achieve something: our dialogue increases our collective understanding.
Back to Hhuck for a second... I think you're right; I think Vince is afraid for America. I'm not trying to provide an alibi for SilverTrain's earlier posts -- I haven't even talked to him about them. But, I also don't know what other Threads he had just been in when he commented and I don't know any of your histories. I do know that its easy to misread a post or a response.
I think SilverTrain and Jason have a bit of history on these points.
The problem is that Jason's recent post could have been reproduced in the comment page of many American newspapers and magazines or heard on many TV or radio stations. His view is pretty mainstream.
Here it is ... once more, with feeling:
There's nothing very arguable about any of that, imo.
I think there's a very human problem here. I can criticize my mom, but you try it, and look out.
However, in this condensed and interconnected world, that kind of territorial defensiveness gets awkward.
SilverTrain obviously loves his country. I love the US myself, very much.
There is a strain of American patriotism that expresses itself defensively. It never represented the best of America.
It comes forward more often now ... and what that suggests to me is that Americans are finding it harder to feel good about their country.
Critical comments from abroad are more painful now because they resonate with growing whisperings in the American heart.
I still have faith in the US.
I think at some point you'll get your act together ... yes, as Jason suggested, much as Britain, through force of circumstances, has already begun to do.
But before that happens, a lot of lights will have to go on in a lot of heads.
What I'm saying is obvious and, for that very reason, unexceptionable.
Agreed... and it's an indictment of the American political process (or the bastardization of it) -- not of representational democracy, not of America nor of Americans in general. I do not know a single person here who will tell you that there aren't problems with American politics. However, you would have a hard time getting everyone to agree on what those problems are and an even tougher time finding any common agreement on solutions.
I think our distinct form of democracy makes us an easy target. Most other democracies in the world are parliamentary in nature whereas we have very separate executive and legislative powers. As a result, we have a lot more conflict and that conflict manifests as hostility between the executive and legislative branches of government and it generates a lot of press. Sometimes, a lot of press for years. Certainly (hopefully?) the world saw that between 2000 and 2008, many Americans and a lot of our politicians did not agree with various Bush-era doctrine and policies: most notably, the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that dissent was inclusive of everything from tax policy to basic human rights. I would argue this culture of hostility festered during those eight years and it contributed to the poisonous environment that you see today. I wish it wasn't that way.
In the parliamentary democracies around the world, if you have conflict between the executive and legislative powers, you just dissolve the government, hold new elections, and the issue is resolved (sometimes). It's nothing if not expedient. Is it better? Hard for anyone to say. And that's where I think some of the territorial defensiveness comes from. Who has the audacity to pronounce judgment like that?
It's easy to criticize the United States, but that's largely because the 20th century was the American century and we were the most visible, most successful, and most influential country in the world. Sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones. And let's face it, we still are all of those things. Yes, the BRIC countries are rapidly emerging, as I think Vince loves to point out. Does that minimize the importance or influence or relevance of the US? Of course not. Imagine having this discussion in 1911 and saying that the UK was irrelevant -- in 1911 -- because the US was rapidly becoming a world power. Ridiculous, right? Here we are 100 years later and it would still be a ridiculous statement to make. The UK remains one of the most powerful countries in the world. So, news of our demise is premature. The one thing Americans are, if nothing else, is resilient.
All very true.
But nonetheless, the inherent divisiveness of your system seems to be creating a lot more division now than it used to. You now need decisive action more than at any time since the Second World War but nothing seems to happen.
You do have a habit of pulling the fat from the fire at the last moment, something that Parliamentary democracies -- particularly when the government has a majority -- don't have to do nearly as often.
Emergencies grow, pressure builds ... and at last agreement is achieved. It makes your political history damn fine reading.
I cross my fingers that that magic will occur again.
It won't surprise me, but I look at the clock and worry.
Well, importance and influence and relevance are all relative.
So the rise of other centres of power does reduce America's position.
This is a zero sum game in many ways.
That said, the US is still very important, and I believe its loss of position over time -- assuming you get through your current fiscal difficulties with some dispatch -- is going to occur far more slowly than many observers predict.
I think many Brits would say they have long been accustomed to a real loss of power and position in the world. But you're right, the UK is in no sense a negligable player, even today.
That's my prediction and hope.
Too often though, "working together" means accepting every single Republican demand. Say what you want about both parties- they both certainly play politics- but the Democrats have ALWAYS been willing to compromise- ALOT. Unfortunately, it's the Republicans who have been unwilling to compromise. Sorry, their idea of compromise involves accepting all of their demands- the New Deal social safety net gets neutered, while their big bank/pharma/military-industrial complex pals sacrifice nothing. Sorry, but when Republicans refuse to put modest tax increases and defense cuts on the table, and even start railing against the estate tax, it's not the Democrats' fault that there is no compromise in our system- there is no equivalency, and saying there is a kind of equivalency is downright dishonest, and allows the Republicans to continue to be batshit crazy.
That rings pretty true, TC.
I think the Republicans are far more obdurate.
I think we've seen some Republican compromises. I was actually glad to see the Republicans elect John Boehner as their Speaker -- out of everyone I could think of, he seemed to have the best track record of seeking and reaching compromise.
I agree that there hasn't been much compromise and the rhetoric has been reprehensible, but consider the repeal of DADT. In my opinion, that could not have happened without tacit approval from Rep. Boehner. Whether he traded something for it or felt that he had better items to spend his political capital on, he allowed DADT to come to a vote and he didn't instruct his Republican members to vote against it, although some clearly did -- maybe fearing the repercussions from their constituents if they didn't.
The best way to obtain Republican compromise, however, might be to stop characterizing everything they do or want as 'batshit crazy'. They're fighting for what they believe in and they do it -- shall we say -- with fervor.
Really? Maybe if we're nice to them, they'll compromise? Are you kidding me man? While they call liberals/Dems/progressives "socialists" "anti family" etc etc etc, we libs sit back and just be nice to them? You cannot be serious dude...