Tag Archives: republicans

Bye-Partisan?

The divide between the two main political parties in the U.S is widening, and the effects of this will ripple outwards and impact the entire world – we already have evidence of this.

With the emergence of the Tea Party, representing the far-right fringe that is potentially safer to ignore, it seems Congress can’t work anything out. The debt ceiling talks went on far longer than were necessary, and why? Oh, just the Tea Party making ridiculous demands in exchange for doing something they, as elected representatives, should be doing anyway – looking after the interests of their people. It seems to me many Republican and Tea Party politicians don’t really want to look after their constituents so much as they want to stabilise and ensure the fulfillment of their own agendas. This attitude to politics is extremely harmful – you can’t make everyone happy, no, but if you pull bills out of nowhere and try to force them through, you’re protecting the interests of absolutely no one.

On the other hand, there are some Americans who share these views. Those people are a result of poor education, to put it simply. They know little to nothing about other countries (as many of us, with access to the internet, have experienced firsthand), and the information that they do know has been distorted by the media. All citizens from the Middle East are terrorists, all Scandinavians are socialists, all Australians own kangaroos and what is a New Zealand? The amount the average American knows about other countries is truly appalling, but we all knew that anyway. Of course, some Australians know little about other places too – but they aren’t as large in numbers, simply because of our smaller population. Therefore, as a group, they are less vocal. It’s nicer that way.

This partisan divide, with one side trying to simply keep up with most other democratic countries, and the other trying to take America back to the 1950s, is detrimental to their economy, the morale of their people, and their international reputation. Honestly, if I were an American right now, I would be embarrassed at how my politicians were behaving. Granted, as an Australian, I’m embarrassed by Tony Abbott every other day, but his stupidity is not my focus. America, the self-proclaimed ‘greatest nation on Earth’ (see my earlier post), is dragging itself down. These parties can agree on almost nothing, and this unwillingness to put aside their moronic agendas and compromise is causing the rest of the world to question America’s ability to lead not only itself, but the democratic nations it claims to represent.

Earlier today, Standard & Poor’s knocked their credit rating down to AA+ – embarrassing. In their press release, amongst other things, the company stated “Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.” This gulf is becoming so wide that it’s rippling outwards and impacting upon America’s economic reputation; not to mention, stock markets worldwide were affected as America took an age making a simple decision about raising the debt ceiling.

These politicians really need to consider the wider implications of their actions. In 2011, their actions no longer only represent themselves, or their party. One small action could potentially represent, and damage the reputation of, the entire country. The debt fiasco is an example of that. I cannot understand how these politicians don’t care about this – no longer can they simply consider what the American people would think (if half of them even consider that at all…) – they have to think about the global implications. It is ignorant of them to behave in this pathetically partisan way – the US isn’t the only country guilty of this, sure, but Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott disagreeing over something doesn’t impact the world in the same way Speaker Boehner continuously pushing his own agenda does. An unfortunate truth, really. I think that some of these American politicians (see Michele Bachmann) are so ignorant that it really could cause great harm to many people. And the fact that these people have supporters and people who vote them in truly frightens me.

The US Congress could seriously benefit from a bit more bipartisanship. Perhaps I’m too hopeful – perhaps I’ve seen too many episodes of The West Wing, and am giving these people too much credit. Perhaps America will just continue down this path of saying goodbye to bipartisanship with little consideration of the consequences. A terrifying thought, but one that may soon be a reality we all need to face.

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United States of Arrogance.

I started high school as the girl who would always defend the US. “It’s unfair to label an entire country as stupid based on the actions of George W. Bush”; “not everyone in America is an uneducated hick, some of them even know where New Zealand is!”, statements I do still stand by – but now, I see fewer reasons to defend the US. The arrogance of many of its citizens is truly embarrassing.

Something you’ll find many Americans shouting out is “America! Greatest country in the world!” … Really? What evidence is there of this? The Human Development Index? Sure, you rank 4th, behind Norway, Australia and New Zealand. What about the inequality-adjusted HDI? There, you rank 12th. So, perhaps not the HDI. Perhaps your lawmakers are paving the way, making progress and setting an example? Hm. Your healthcare laws are only just now beginning to catch up to laws made by most other developed countries decades ago; your abortion laws are going so far as trying to criminalise abortion, something most developed countries chucked out, again, decades ago; your far-right nutjobs enjoy holding your Congress hostage and making loony demands. Of course, Australia has Fred Nile et al, but their influence, compared to the Tea Party’s, is limited. Then again, I’m sure most sensible Americans will agree with me that the Tea Party are not representative of the entire right wing of politics, let alone the entire nation. I’m simply mentioning them because their actions earlier this week could have led directly to a dire global economic situation again. Really great.

This rhetoric is present even in the speeches of well-meaning, left-leaning celebrities, such as Matt Damon: “This is the greatest country in the world; is it really that much worse if you pay 6% more in taxes? Give me a break. Look at what you get for it: you get to be American.” I mean really, what? Overly-patriotic rhetoric coming from any nationality makes me ill. This idea of America being number one is reminiscent of freaking colonialism – we’re number one (like Britain), so we’re going to exert power over smaller nations and use up their resources and terrorise the locals (India) or send our unwanted criminals there to drive out the native peoples (Australia, many other island nations…)

America’s reputation in the last 100 years hasn’t been so hot. Japanese Internment, the atomic bombs, Cold War, Korean War, horrible treatment of African-American citizens, Vietnam War which led to Pol Pot committing genocide in Cambodia, all the invasions of the Middle East, terrible presidents, etc. Ergo, I can’t find much historical justification for this notion of America still reigning supreme. I really think the time has come for America to step down from this pedestal it has placed itself on – you aren’t ideologically or politically superior to many countries now, guys. Check out Scandinavia. They’re on the ball. I don’t hear Norway constantly harping about how it’s ‘the best, stuff the rest’? And they have many more reasons to have such an attitude.

I’m not saying there is one greatest country – quite the opposite, I simply do not think there is one ‘greatest’ country. I think that this rhetoric, even if said by well-meaning people defending increased taxes, or said in jest, is dangerous, and reminiscent of decades past, when we had the First World, Second World and Third World. I think this sort of arrogance is pretty juvenile, and for a country as old as America, that’s a shame.

I pick on America because I simply don’t hear this sort of rhetoric in such volumes from anyone besides Americans. Face it, America – there are few countries who still find your actions admirable, and few who look up to you in any way. Unfortunately, Australia has taken to being your lapdog – hopefully we can grow out of that soon, though I’m not holding my breath. I doubt most of Europe look up to you, when there isn’t much you’re progressing further than them in; I doubt the Middle East much respect you, considering you seemingly enjoy occupying their lands and involving yourself in their territorial disputes for your own interests.

So, in conclusion, I think that from now on, you won’t find me defending America as much as I used to. Why should I? In the eyes of many Americans, I, as an Australian, am almost second-class. I have American friends, who are great, and there are certain American cities I still love dearly – New York being the main one. It’s quite contradictory, because while I’m developing this attitude, my love for New York is virtually undying – so who knows, maybe I will move there one day? Hopefully I can avoid patriots and overzealous Christians and Tea Party members, though.

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Filed under Global, Politics, Thoughts