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Please enlighten a non-American

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saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
Hello all,

I have been reading some of the threads here over the last year and am more confused than ever about American Politics. Not about the system itself, or even the characters - I am Canadian and get CNN! What I am amazed by is the dynamics of it and the ''ownership'' and loyalty to a particular political party that I have witnessed on this board.

Feel free to discuss widely, but I would really like to get a grasp on the following:

1) Are most Americans ''members'' of one of the two parties? People here often say "I am a Democrat", or "as a Republican, . . ."? In Canada very few people actually belong to a political party (generally those very involved in politics at some level). Or is this belonging just a matter of upbringing and tradition? (Eg. "Our family votes Democrat") I have also heard some talk about declaring this when you register to vote??

2) This apparent membership with a certain party seems to make people very defensive and - from my exposure to this board -seems to often get in the way of having an interesting debate on individual issues. People tend to defend the questionable things their party does by bringing up something else they do well, or that the opposite party failed at. Are people generally ''loyal'' to their party on all fronts? Is it somehow "unacceptable" to agree with Democrats on one issue and the Republicans on another?

3) Most people I know (here in Canada) have voted for different parties in different elections over the years based on the issues, leaders and economic situation, resulting in changes in gov''t. It sounds like there is a small group of "swing voters" in the US who don''t affiliate themselves with one party and ultimately make the decisions - is this true?

4) From a Canadian (and I think European/Australian) perspective, both of the American political parties are fairly conservative. We have a wider vatiery of political parties to choose from when voting. Is there general satisfaction with only having two choices? Do they reflect the majority of the American people? Or does this cause frustration for many people? Is it a reason for low voter turnout? (For example the attitude of - "I don''t like either choice - why vote?!")

5) In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about how the United States is "divided" politically. From an outside perspective, a two party system that separates a country into one of the two camps, seems like it would always cause this sort of division. How is this new? How did it work in the past? Are the two parties becoming more polarised politically?

I hope my questions are not offensive in any way and am not saying that there is anything "wrong" with the American system - there are strengths and weaknesses with every system - the Canadian system is FAR from perfect. I am just trying to gain a better understanding of this fascinating dynamic that seems to permiate so many discussions on this board.
 

AllieGator

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
316
1) There are two major parties that most americans are members of--The Republican party, which is more conservative, and the Democratic Party, which is more liberal. There are also third parties, such as the green party, and then Independents who have no party affiliation.

2) Most people identify with the party that represents their personal beliefs, so I think that is why most people get defensive when their views are opposed. People tend to have party loyalty in the US, which is why the Youth Vote is so important--people generally stick with the party they vote as when they are part of the "Youth Vote" (ages 18-24).

3) There are people in both parties who just vote for their party, regardless of the candidate. But there are still many people who identify their candidate not by their party, but by their views. My parents, for instance, are both Republicans but voted for Obama in this election, because they thought he was the better candidate.

4) I think low voter turn out comes from both disliking the candidates, like you said, and general apathy. Most people in the US relate to one of the two major parties, and if they don''t, they either register with a third party or as independents. Primaries are only for voters in their registered parties. I know that''s why I registered Democrat instead of Green Party, so I could vote in the primary, and I know many people who made this choice as well, but I can''t speak for everyone.

5) There has always been a lot of polarization between the parties, but it''s mostly from the extreme liberals and the extreme conservatives. The majority of Americans are more moderate in their respective parties, and we co-exist rather well.


Don''t worry about offending anyone! I grew up near Canada, so I know about the Canadian system, but I can imagine it''s very confusing for most americans who are used to two parties--and vice versa, our two party system must seem bizarre to you!
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
Thanks for your replies AllieGator!

1) I am surprised to hear about these other parties, they don''t get much press time do they? Do they all run presidential candidates? Do they have any representation in the gov''t today?

2) VERY interesting comment about the importance of the youth vote! It sounds like they are sort of establishing their allegances in those first couple of elections. In comparison, in Canada (speaking VERY generally of course) the youth and senior citizens tend to vote more liberally (young idealism and seniors concerned about social security), and working age voters (more jaded and eager to pay less tax) more conservatively, so the different parties target different demographics.

3) You state that your parents "are Republicans". If they didn''t vote republican, what does this mean?? And you say that you "registered" Democrat - registered with whom? Here in order to vote for the party leader you have to be a ''member'' of the party (includes signing up and paying a nominal membership fee), but as I said in my last post, relatively few people are party member. They are happy to participate in the process by simply voting in elections.

4) From what you say, suggests that you might have voted Green. If you are indeed a green voter, do you feel unrepresented? Our own Green party (the 5th most popular in the country) received over 5% of the popular vote in the last election, but (due to our own flawed system) ended up with no representation. Many voters are unhappy about this - is issue of lack of representation not an isse for "fringe" voters in the US?

5) We too have polarised individuals from the socialist to the extreme right wing (although our definition of this is likely different!), with the masses lying somewhere in between. Although we have a range of parties that represent those different points on the spectrum, due to the "masses in the middle", it is almost impossible for the "extreme" parties to gain enough support to govern. This results in a "middle of the spectrum" party gaining power, or a minority gov''t - like we have now. It sounds like the Repulican and Democrat parties represent the "middle of the road" for the average american, so you just do away with all that confusion on the side lines! But again I wonder about people feeling unrepresented. Even though they don''t form the gov''t people are happy to vote for the more extreme parties here as they do form part of the gov''t and play a role in making decisions.
 

AllieGator

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
316
1) They run candidates, Ralph Nader being the most prolific in recent years, and Ross Perot in the 1992 election. But generally, all of the third parties together get 1 % or 2& out of the entire election. There is one independent in the Senate--Joe Lieberman.

2) In the US, younger people tend to be liberal, and older people tend to be conservative. In between, it''s fairly evenly split. Certain areas tend to have different allegiances as well (The south is heavily republican, the northeast is heavily democratic), as well as different races and economic levels.

3) When you turn 18, you can "register" to vote, which makes you a member of the party. When you fill out your application, you check what party you''d like to be a member of, and you are then a member of that party. You also have the option of registering as an independent, which means you''re not affiliated with any party. It is free, and you can change your affiliation by filling out a new form. So my parents are registered republicans, and I''m a registered democrat.

4) Many third parties will actually back one of the major (republican/democrat) party candidates, or they will run their own candidate. The reason I personally was going to register in the Green Party was because it represented my beliefs the best, but I would probably still vote for the democrat. That''s why I registered Democrat--so i could vote in the Democratic Party Primary. Some people complain about underrepresentation of third party candidates, but I don''t really see a change in the two party system coming any time soon.

I saw that you get CNN--when i go home from college, we get CBC and CTV at my house. I love watching the Canadian news, I find it less biased (both ways-liberal or conservative) than american news.
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
1) Right, I remember hearing both of these names. That is really a small percentage of the vote that they are getting, I guess that shows the strength of the two dominant parties.

2) We too have our regional political biases. Alberta is very conservative. Quebec even has their own political party.

3) So when you register to vote you actually indicate which party you are a "member" of? The government has a master list of everyone''s political allegances?! Can you change this? Is it public information? Here, you also register to vote, but provide no information on any poilitical connection or leaning (all you need is proof of citizenship and age). It is just a list of eligible voters, that allows you receive a ballot on voting day. I mentioned the possibility of becoming a member of a party in Canada. It is in no way connected with the gov''t itself. Your $5-$15 "membership fee" is really a donation to the party, and is more symbolic than anything. In theory, you could be a member of every political parties in the country, no one is keeping track. These party leadership races and elections are managed by the party itself, not Elections Canada. Party leaders are elected by members at conventions or over the internet. I am guessing that your "primary" elections are conducted by the gov''t, and that is why they need to know your affiliation? I must admit, I find the idea of revealing your allegance to the gov''t a bit creepy! But it is just another example of a different system.

Yes, I get CNN as well as all the major US networks - so I am not a stranger to US politics, but you simply don''t get certain information without living in a place. CNN is the only US channel I watch for news, but I only watch it when there is some sort of major event to be covered though, not on a daily basis. For my day to day news I watch Canadian channels. I find they are a bit better about covering international events, and (obviously) local and Canadian events than the US networks. Canadian news isn''t blatent about its bias, but each station definitely has its subtle political leanings!

It is funny how your own political bias affects how "un-biased" you think the media is. Your average "middle of the road" Ontarian likely feels that the CBC is un-biased. The average conservative Albertan thinks it is wildly socialist! I also heard an interesting series of interviews with a group of people in a Republican state saying how they felt FOX was the most un-biased news available.
 

AllieGator

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
316
I don't think the government itself has a master list...the party does, though. You get a voter registration card that has your party affiliation and your name, as well.

Many people feel that fox news is way biased to the right, but many conservatives feel that the US media, overall, has a liberal bias. I tend to read/watch Canadian or British news when it comes to the US's dealings with other countries, such as the Iraq War, because I find that it's more realistic.

I hope this doesn't get flagged, but all I'm going to say is this and nothing else on the matter: In the US, religion plays a large part in some people's political convictions. Is it the same way in Canada?

The government runs the primary elections, as well as the general election. Each county has a board of elections, and they keep track of who is allowed to vote in which primary, and who is eligible to vote in the general election.

Primaries are generally run in the beginning of a voting year. Each candidate wants to gain a set number of "delegates"--when they reach a certain number, they become the presumptive nominee until the party's Convention (The DNC (Democratic National Convention) and the RNC (Republican National Convention) when they are officially nominated.

In the Democratic party, states divide their delegates according the percent a candidate wins. In the Republican party, whoever wins the state receives all of the delegates.

In the Democratic party, if the race is too close and no candidate gains the number of candidates needed, "Super-Delegates" vote to see who will be the nominee. These are people who are chosen by the party. They are generally people of importance in the party. Many people don't like this, myself included. In the most recent presidential election, it appeared for a time that Super-Delegates might decide the democratic primary, because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were very close in the race for a time, but Obama eventually pulled in enough delegates to clinch it.

I don't think the Republican party has super-delegates, but I'm much more familiar with the inner workings of the Democratic Party.
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
Yikes! Now things are starting to get complicated! I never tried to figure out "super-deligates" when it was in the news last year!

I now understand that your parties select their candidates by general member vote, or resorting to "super deligates" if it is too close to call. In our case, the "leader" of the governing party becomes Prime Minister, you don't vote for the PM separately, so there is no candidate process. What matters is party leadership, which is decided by the individual party in its own way. Some do it by deligate votes at conventions, other open it to all members to vote online. One person has to win a majority though, so there are often multiple votes to narrow it down.

All very interesting. Thanks for all your help! Hopefully this will help me understand future posts! The idea of being a party member from the time you register to vote at 18 is a real difference that undoubtedly creates the party loyalty I have witnessed.

In answer to your question, no, religion plays almost no role in politics in Canada. The media does not advertise the religion of candidates (or even if they are, or are not religous, unless it is somehow unique like, "She is the first Muslim Member of Parliament" - but even then the comment would be more about ethnic diversity than religion). You also do not hear about churches supporting particular parties. Obviously certain religions have values that may cause their followers to gravitate towards a particular party, but that doesn't have a big impact on the total vote. For the vast majority of voters, politics and religion are not inter-connected. In fact, strongly expressing religious ties as part of a political campaign would likely be political suicide in Canada. It would "turn off" far more people than it would attract. I think Canadians like to see their politicians as religously neutral.

Although AllieGator has answered most of my questions, I would love to hear more thoughts and views from other PSers!
 

Guilty Pleasure

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 16, 2008
Messages
1,114
In America, our basic system doesn''t change after an election. I think more people would vote if there was a possibility of fundamental change at each national election. Low voter turnout doesn''t have to be about disappointment in the candidates. For many, it''s just faith in the system (or at least knowledge of how it works). For example, I didn''t vote in the 2004 election. I was registered to vote in a different city, and I live in Texas. President Bush had our state locked down, so I didn''t need to vote for any other reason than "fulfilling my obligation". I wasn''t apathetic or disappointed with the candidates. I was just okay with the status quo, was too late for early voting, and didn''t want to drive four hours to vote.


As you said, our two parties are relatively close in ideals when you consider the entire spectrum of political beliefs. If each national election carried the possibility of a Constitution rewrite or a change to socialism overnight, then I think Americans would show up at the polls. As it is, most see voting as a civic duty rather than an actual say in change. That''s not necessarily a bad thing.
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
Date: 3/6/2009 3:28:52 PM
Author: Guilty Pleasure
As it is, most see voting as a civic duty rather than an actual say in change. That''s not necessarily a bad thing.
Very interesting. Just to make things a bit controversial - isn''t that pretty anti-democratic? If the two choices you have to pick between are so similar that people don''t beleive that there is any potential to really change anything, is it really a democracy?
 

elle_chris

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 19, 2004
Messages
3,153
Both parties have very different ideas on how to acheive mutual (usually)l goals. This is where Americans beome divided. And yes, we''re a very real democracy.

You asked questions, Allie answered well. No need to turn this into anything more.
 

HollyS

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 18, 2007
Messages
6,099
1) Most Americans probably have voted across party lines to embrace the ideas and persona of a particular person. Quite a few non-Democrats, for instance, voted for Obama.

2) We aren''t really a ''Two Party Government'', and weren''t meant to be, but you wouldn''t know that because of the power structure involved in running a candidate for high office in the U.S. The money and influence, which will get the votes, is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Democrat and Republican parties.

3) I would hope that anyone who is educated, involved, well-read, and concerned about their country, would be engaged in the dialogue between idealogies. And there is nothing wrong with being adamant about your own viewpoint - - no matter the viewpoint. It only matters that you have one.

And what makes American as great as she is . . . are the people willing to do the talking, and the disagreeing, and the shouting, and still, at the end of the day, consider the other person''s right to think what they will to be a God-given and Constitution-protected privilege.

The next time you are at one of those big mega chain bookstores, look for the The New York Times book which features the first one hundred years of the newspaper''s front pages. You will see that American politics have always been highly charged, and vigorously defended, and much maligned . . . since the very beginning.
 

Rank Amateur

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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Messages
1,553
We are not a democracy but rather a representative republic. It takes a lot of electors to get elected President which makes us gravitate to a two-party system. If 5 people all get 20% of the electoral votes we''d have a mess to sort out.
 

HollyS

Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
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Date: 3/6/2009 5:34:08 PM
Author: Rank Amateur
We are not a democracy but rather a representative republic. It takes a lot of electors to get elected President which makes us gravitate to a two-party system. If 5 people all get 20% of the electoral votes we''d have a mess to sort out.
Correct. And well put.
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
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Messages
225
Date: 3/6/2009 4:49:57 PM
Author: elle_chris
No need to turn this into anything more.
Sorry if I offended, I tried to indicate that I was playing devil''s advocate by the way I asked the question - I meant no disrespect. I am just trying to stir up discussion and get a feel for if anyone feels limited by their two choices. From what I have heard here to date, it doesn''t seem so.

Rank Amateur gave an excellent response (exactly the kind of thing I was looking for) and pointed out the very weakness of having more than two choices. Currently the Canadian gov''t is a bit of a mess, in that it is made up of 4 different political parties, none of which hold a majority of the seats. This means they are in a state of constant negotiation and debate, which can easily delay legislation for ages. It does have its benefits in that the politicians are forced to work together and come up with creative solutions, but It also means that we can be forced to have multiple elections in a short time frame (no fixed election dates here). All of this can be frustrating and expensive.

No system is perfect, we all have our own messes. Learning about other systems is how we can improve our own. I would love to have an Austalian weigh in on this, they have an very interesting (and seemingly complex) system.
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
Date: 3/6/2009 5:22:50 PM
Author: HollyS

The next time you are at one of those big mega chain bookstores, look for the The New York Times book which features the first one hundred years of the newspaper''s front pages. You will see that American politics have always been highly charged, and vigorously defended, and much maligned . . . since the very beginning.
Thanks Holly, I will keep my eye out for this - it sounds like an interesting read. It is the drama and passion that surround American politics that make it so interesting. Canadian politics are generally a bit of a yawn! That, I think is the main reason for voter apathy in our country! If we had the characters you had running, we''d have people out in droves to vote!
 

strmrdr

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 1, 2003
Messages
23,295
Yes I feel extremely limited by 2 candidates.
In the last election neither candidate was worth a plugged nickel.
I am tired of voting for the lesser of 2 evils that is still evil.
 

packrat

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
10,615
Date: 3/6/2009 6:10:18 PM
Author: strmrdr
Yes I feel extremely limited by 2 candidates.

In the last election neither candidate was worth a plugged nickel.

I am tired of voting for the lesser of 2 evils that is still evil.
Someone on another forum called it voting for the "evil of two lessers" and I am inclined to agree.
 

HollyS

Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
6,099
Date: 3/6/2009 6:52:56 PM
Author: packrat


Date: 3/6/2009 6:10:18 PM
Author: strmrdr
Yes I feel extremely limited by 2 candidates.

In the last election neither candidate was worth a plugged nickel.

I am tired of voting for the lesser of 2 evils that is still evil.
Someone on another forum called it voting for the ''evil of two lessers'' and I am inclined to agree.
*snort, chuckle*

 

VRBeauty

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Messages
10,225
Date: 3/6/2009 1:36:24 PM
Author: AllieGator

In the Democratic party, states divide their delegates according the percent a candidate wins. In the Republican party, whoever wins the state receives all of the delegates.
Allie: I appreciate your knowlege base and your ability to answer SM's questions (and one or two of my own..
).

However, I thought the states, not the parties, decide how electoral college delegates will be apportioned. California is a winner-take-all state, but there are a few states that sub-divide the state along congressional districts for electoral college purposes.

In response to another of SM's questions, each county's voter registration list does indicate party affiliation for each registered voter, and that information is available to the public.

SaltyMuffin, I think some of the division you're reading about has a lot to do with partisanship in the state and national legislatures, meaning that a lot of the votes on contentious issues these days are along party lines, and few legislators of either party will risk crossing party lines. The parties can exert a lot of control over legislators because they control a lot of campaign funds, and because party loyalty tends to figure into committee assignments. California was without a working budget for months because our constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to pass a budget, and neither party controls that many votes. The four republicans that voted against for the budget that was ultimately passed -- and against their party -- were censured by their party, and I believe they've been cut off from party campaign funds.

And then there are the radio talk shows -- a bit
of a missnomer because most don't in any way foster dialogue. It would be more accurate to call them "shout shows."
 

klewis

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
871
An issue that has affected my country recently is how much money can be spent on an election campaign. If you have the monetary power behind your candidate you have a much greater chance of influencing the result, and I wonder, is that really democratic?

How does this work in America - are there limits to campaign expenditure?
 

LaraOnline

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 24, 2008
Messages
3,365
Very interesting, and very complete and informative discussion, thanks guys!
I also have wondered about the conversational ''badging'' of oneself as ''Democrat'' or ''Republican'' I have observed on this forum.
It seemed to me that one must talk a lot about politics, and that the custom must be to reveal partisanship much more openly in the US.

However, it comes down to having to nominate a ''favourite'' at the ripe old age of 18! It certainly adds a different flavour to political discussions.

Political allegiances are seen very much as a private matter overall in Australia, and even the most partisan of political punters will often not come out and proud as a full-blown supporter of a party, as partisanship in itself can be seen as a kind of closed-mindedness to the matter at hand.
Of course, the conversation in itself tends to reveal the person''s allegiances and blind spots.
But, as voters, we always like to retain the possibility (or, for the benefit of other people, the illusion) of being free to jump to the other side!
Since becoming eligible to vote, I voted for one particular party for many years without ever identifying myself as an ''x''-type. When I ''joined the dark side'', no-one knew but me!

I wonder what the comparative percentage of swinging voters is in each country?
 

Dancing Fire

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
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Messages
31,513
i want Holly S and beebrisk to run our country.
 

AllieGator

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 1, 2008
Messages
316
During the general election, the states decide on how the Electoral college will be split. A few split it, but most just give the winner all. During the primary, the system is decided by the parties.

KLewis, in America, candidates have two choices. They can either take federal funding, but that limits how much they can raise from the American Public. Or, they can not take the federal funding, and raise all the money on their own. For instance, in this election, McCain took the federal funding, and Obama refused it.

(sorry to be answering all the questions, but I''m getting my political-science-minor-geek on!)
 

sklingem

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
641
2) This apparent membership with a certain party seems to make people very defensive and - from my exposure to this board -seems to often get in the way of having an interesting debate on individual issues. People tend to defend the questionable things their party does by bringing up something else they do well, or that the opposite party failed at. Are people generally ''loyal'' to their party on all fronts? Is it somehow ''unacceptable'' to agree with Democrats on one issue and the Republicans on another?

- This is what happens when people believe in absolute truths. Much more common in the US, unfortunately.


4) From a Canadian (and I think European/Australian) perspective, both of the American political parties are fairly conservative. We have a wider vatiery of political parties to choose from when voting. Is there general satisfaction with only having two choices? Do they reflect the majority of the American people? Or does this cause frustration for many people? Is it a reason for low voter turnout? (For example the attitude of - ''I don''t like either choice - why vote?!'')

- Are you kidding me? The Democrats are communists. Just ask the average American out there. LOL. You are right, a lot of people do not even realize how conservative the US is relative to most other countries of this world. Voting for Democrats as someone who favors more liberal views is just making sure that Republicans do not get voted into office.
 

Rank Amateur

Brilliant_Rock
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Messages
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Date: 3/7/2009 8:15:46 AM
Author: AllieGator
KLewis, in America, candidates have two choices. They can either take federal funding, but that limits how much they can raise from the American Public. Or, they can not take the federal funding, and raise all the money on their own. For instance, in this election, McCain took the federal funding, and Obama refused it.
Obama first agreed to the limits until he saw the cash coming in and realized it was in his favor to take the cash.

By how much did Obama outspend McCain? In the end it didn''t matter because Obama was going to win regardless of the $$.
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
12,111
Date: 3/7/2009 8:34:08 AM
Author: rob09

2) This apparent membership with a certain party seems to make people very defensive and - from my exposure to this board -seems to often get in the way of having an interesting debate on individual issues. People tend to defend the questionable things their party does by bringing up something else they do well, or that the opposite party failed at. Are people generally ''loyal'' to their party on all fronts? Is it somehow ''unacceptable'' to agree with Democrats on one issue and the Republicans on another?

- This is what happens when people believe in absolute truths. Much more common in the US, unfortunately.

4) From a Canadian (and I think European/Australian) perspective, both of the American political parties are fairly conservative. We have a wider vatiery of political parties to choose from when voting. Is there general satisfaction with only having two choices? Do they reflect the majority of the American people? Or does this cause frustration for many people? Is it a reason for low voter turnout? (For example the attitude of - ''I don''t like either choice - why vote?!'')

- Are you kidding me? The Democrats are communists. Just ask the average American out there. LOL. You are right, a lot of people do not even realize how conservative the US is relative to most other countries of this world. Voting for Democrats as someone who favors more liberal views is just making sure that Republicans do not get voted into office.
Ditto rob, as usual! I think it''s hilarious that Democrats are seen as bleeding heart liberals...the Republicans should see what a liberal in another country looks like-their heads would explode!
 

HollyS

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
6,099
Date: 3/7/2009 8:34:08 AM
Author: rob09

2) This apparent membership with a certain party seems to make people very defensive and - from my exposure to this board -seems to often get in the way of having an interesting debate on individual issues. People tend to defend the questionable things their party does by bringing up something else they do well, or that the opposite party failed at. Are people generally ''loyal'' to their party on all fronts? Is it somehow ''unacceptable'' to agree with Democrats on one issue and the Republicans on another?

- This is what happens when people believe in absolute truths. Much more common in the US, unfortunately.


4) From a Canadian (and I think European/Australian) perspective, both of the American political parties are fairly conservative. We have a wider vatiery of political parties to choose from when voting. Is there general satisfaction with only having two choices? Do they reflect the majority of the American people? Or does this cause frustration for many people? Is it a reason for low voter turnout? (For example the attitude of - ''I don''t like either choice - why vote?!'')

- Are you kidding me? The Democrats are communists. Just ask the average American out there. LOL. You are right, a lot of people do not even realize how conservative the US is relative to most other countries of this world. Voting for Democrats as someone who favors more liberal views is just making sure that Republicans do not get voted into office.
If the average American thinks Democrats are communists, why do they now control the Congress and the White House?

When you want to ridicule your target group, you need to skip the generalities.
 

HollyS

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
6,099
Date: 3/7/2009 6:13:25 AM
Author: Dancing Fire
i want Holly S and beebrisk to run our country.
While I''m probably the only person you know who has absolutely no ''skeletons in her closet'', no one would give me the job. I''m far too honest. And lippy.
 

saltymuffin

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
225
Really interesting, thanks everyone!

VRBeauty - Canadian politicians are also "repremanded" if they vote against their party. In fact, in many cases doing so means immediate expulsion from the party, leaving them to join another party or turning independent. (Not very democratic!) But individual voters can be as wishy-washy as they want - and generally are! When someone un-popular is in power, suddenly no one voted for them! Everyone gets the attitude of "who voted for this joker?"!

LaraOnline, made an interesting point about how open many Americans seem to be about who they voted for. Canadians are also pretty private voters. I don''t know how anyone voted in our last election, with the exception of my husband - although I can guess in many cases. I know who certain people didn''t vote for, and many people feel comfortable saying that, but as there are several choices, that doesn''t totally narrow it down. I might know that a friend is fairly liberal, but that still doesn''t tell me how he/she voted, because there is more than one left wing choice.

On the topic of the relatively conservative nature of the Democratic party, one thing that always makes me giggle is how the word "liberal" seems to be a "bad word" in the US. It seems that even the Democrats don''t want to be labeled as "Liberal" as it has such bad connotations. One of our most popular, powerful parties is actually called the Liberal Party! They wouldn''t do too well in the US! Ironically, our even more left-wing, Socialist Party are the "New Democrats" - I know that many Republicans would think that is pretty amusing! Our current PM is a member of the Conservative party. It is the most conservative main-stream party we have - but still very ''soft'' compared to Republicans. We used to have a more right wing party, but it merged with the Conservatives, to create a party that would have a broader appeal.
 

beebrisk

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 18, 2005
Messages
1,000
Date: 3/7/2009 6:13:25 AM
Author: Dancing Fire
i want Holly S and beebrisk to run our country.
Like Holly, I have no skeletons either. And not even a single dicey "association"!

But thanks for the props, DF. At least I know I''d have ONE vote!
 
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