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Jackie Ashley

George Bush: Pre-Modernist Politician?

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I live now in one of the most internationalist of countries, namely Sweden. However, I first really saw the impact the EU has had on my native country when we lived in London at the end of the 1980s. Our neighbour, Sean, was an electrician, and a typical Londoner, the kind of person who, a generation previously, would have made a virtue of never even having left the south-east of England.

Sean had already worked in half-a-dozen European countries (including Sweden), and had lots of opinions about German coffee, Italian bacon, Swedish TV, etc, based on personal experience.

So, I would say that people in the USA are more parochial in general than people in other western countries. The north Americans I meet here in Europe are nearly always amazed at how *small* Europe is (it takes around 15 hours to take the train from where I live to Paris). Think about one-and-half Californias (to use another of Julian Barnes' images) with 450 million people living in it. I'm sure that one of the major reasons we're so against Bush's adventurism and religious fanaticism is that we have close personal memories of where they lead … We sympathised with 9/11, but that sort of destruction was visited on large parts of a large proportion of the cities in Europe within living memory, so it wasn't such of a shock to us.

One of the differences between a European visiting lots of European countries and an American visiting lots of US states is that you can't speak the same language everywhere and expect to be understood. This means that we are forced to acknowledge diversity, whether we like it or not.

One of the frightening things about US forces abroad is their general assumption that everyone they meet is motivated by the same things that motivate Americans (and, indeed, secretly wish that they were Americans). You can see this tendency in the statements from Marines about what's going to happen in Falluja, right now. The Marines seem to think that when they roll into the middle of the city and start patrolling, then the grateful populace will thank them for getting rid of the 'terrorists' and then set about constructing US-style lives for themselves. What if the population see the 'terrorists' as being something more like the French Resistance?

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David is certainly right about the expectations of most soldiers in foreign wars. After all, one relies on one's own experience in new situations. I don't know that I was exactly shocked to learn that the Vietnamese peasants regarded us as the invaders and the enemy, and the VC (if not the NVA) as their protectors, but it certainly changed my opinion about the morality of the Vietnam War. I learned that little lesson very early in my tour, and spent the rest of my tour doing my best to stay alive without surrendering my soul. Perhaps my fellow Marines will learn the same lesson in Falluja - which would be bad news for Mr. Bush.

Another thing - probably everyone would agree that travel is a good thing and broadens one's perspective. The question is, who can afford it? I visited my father in a distant state, and that visit put us in debt from which it will take a year or more to recover. I probably make more than the average American in my job. How do you expect the average American to get any overseas travel?

Edited by Mike Toliver

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The film "The Three Kings" was a bit of a pot-boiler, but it had what I thought was some very significant scenes near the beginning when the three criminal US soldiers on the look out for loot rolled into an Iraqi town just across the border, which had been deserted by the Iraqi authorities.

The first thing they see is a bloke being beaten up by two other men. The 'victim' was in plain clothes, whilst the attackers were in unmarked green uniforms. The Americans promptly rescue the victim and drive away the attackers … only to find later on that the victim was a Baathist, being attacked by Shiite resistance fighters, who'd just been challenged to rise up against Sadaam Hussein by the US President.

Then they find a bunker, and down it there's a personable young man in civilian clothes, who speaks excellent English and likes the same kind of music they do. Later on, when this bloke has captured one of the Americans, he begins torturing him. The others later free their comrade and ask his torturer who taught him to torture like that. 'You did' is the reply …

I've done two spells of working in the Gulf (the first time as an instructor in military English for the Kuwaiti Army) and this really rings true. Problem is, if a civilian like me has got insights like this from a little bit of time spent in the region + a popular film, why didn't the Pentagon's advisers, with their vastly superior resources, prepare their troops better?

Some of the reasons must be down to personal factors … but there've got to be some systemic faults here too. I find the very different behaviour of French troops engaged in colonial wars (like the one in Ivory Coast right now) interesting. There they are with a couple of hundred troops amidst hundreds of thousands of armed civilians who could, presumably, obliterate them … and yet the French have generally achieved their military aims when they've intervened in such situations. Since the US Armed Forces are much better equipped than the French, surely the success-failure axis should lean the other way?

Edited by David Richardson

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Yes the French certainly had much greater success in Vietnam (sorry, couldn't resist...).

In the first Gulf War, I remember listening to an Arab-American woman decrying the demonization of Arabs in the media. My wife and I were talking about this and she said "What do you expect? If you send soldiers into a region where they're going to have to kill people, you have to make the "enemy" appear less than human."

In Vietnam, we were discouraged from any contact with the peasants (and by that time - 1968 - it was in our best interest to keep our distance because the peasants could well kill us). Interestingly, the US soldiers who look back on Vietnam with the greatest pride are those few soldiers (special forces, Marine CAP's) who lived and worked with the peasants.

I just read a story in the Chicago Tribune about the Marines moving into Falluja with Iraqi commandos - and the Marines were relying heavily on the Iraqis to tell friend from foe. I don't think it's as easy as David would have us think. It may well be that the powers that be have made a conscious decision to reduce understanding between US forces and Iraqis - if so, it would be the same story I've seen more times than I care to remember - but still, in guerilla warfare it is often impossible to tell who you can trust - which is why guerilla warfare is so effective.

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Yes the French certainly had much greater success in Vietnam (sorry, couldn't resist...).

That was then … I was thinking about the more recent French colonial interventions in Chad and from Djibouti, for example.

I just read a story in the Chicago Tribune about the Marines moving into Falluja with Iraqi commandos - and the Marines were relying heavily on the Iraqis to tell friend from foe.  I don't think it's as easy as David would have us think.  It may well be that the powers that be have made a conscious decision to reduce understanding between US forces and Iraqis - if so, it would be the same story I've seen more times than I care to remember - but still, in guerilla warfare it is often impossible to tell who you can trust - which is why guerilla warfare is so effective.

I expressed myself wrongly if I left the impression that I think that such interventions are easy. I wouldn't like to be a French soldier relying on air-power and armoured personnel carriers to save me from a crowd which was hundreds of times bigger than my 'crowd'.

The impression I've received (partly from working with peace enforcers from the Swedish Army too) is that US soldiers enter into such situations with a much greater load of illusions than the more cynical French. One of the paradoxes of the intervention in Bosnia was that one of the most effective forces was NordBat (Danes, Norwegians and Swedes). When they were shelled by the Serbians, they retaliated immediately - mostly because the political stuff had been worked out in advance. The Serbians soon learned to leave them alone. Other units, however, would find themselves having to try to explain their situation to the politicos back home before they had permission to shoot back … with the result that by the time they received it, there weren't any targets any more.

A lot of my contacts in the Technical Services of the Swedish Army have been offered big bucks to work with the Americans in Iraq, but the response is an automatic refusal. Even the lower-ranks in the Swedish Army know enough about the world to know that what makes the job of the Americans impossible is that they shouldn't even be trying to do it at all.

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David writes:

The north Americans I meet here in Europe are nearly always amazed at how *small* Europe is (it takes around 15 hours to take the train from where I live to Paris).

I takes around three hours for me to travel by train to Paris or Brussels: one hour to London and then two hours from London to Paris or Brussels.

Mike writes:

In Vietnam, we were discouraged from any contact with the peasants (and by that time - 1968 - it was in our best interest to keep our distance because the peasants could well kill us). Interestingly, the US soldiers who look back on Vietnam with the greatest pride are those few soldiers (special forces, Marine CAP's) who lived and worked with the peasants.

An old schoolfriend of mine was based in the British Embassy in Saigon at the time of the Tet Offensive. He often talked about the different approaches adopted by the Brits and the Americans. The British Embassy bought most of its provisions from local suppliers, e.g. fruit and vegetables and other basic foodstuffs, and they employed Vietnamese staff as housekeepers in Embassy staff's homes. My friend had a Vietnamese cook. This gave the Brits useful contact with the local people and insights into their thinking. Before he was posted to Vietnam my friend took an intensive course in Vietnamese in the Foreign Office's language teaching unit. Virtually everything that the American Embassy in Saigon used was imported direct from the USA, and they employed few local people.

Mike writes:

...in guerrilla warfare it is often impossible to tell who you can trust - which is why guerrilla warfare is so effective.

Yes, we have experienced the same problem in Northern Ireland. I was staying with my in-laws in the Shankill Road when the first British troops came in (in August 1969). I remember them running around like headless chicken in the early days, grabbing a local and pointing to a group of people asking if they were Catholics or Protestants (in those days Protestant = friend, Catholic = foe). I was always puzzled by my wife’s ability to be able to identify almost immediately if someone was a Catholic or Protestant. They speak with the same accent, and I could never tell the difference simply by talking to someone. But, if one grows up in an environment such as Northern Ireland one seems to develop a sixth sense, which is characteristic of most people living in most divided communities. Names are an obvious clue: Billy = Protestant, Sean = Catholic, Robertson = Protestant, Kelly = Catholic (although this is not 100% reliable), but there are other little indications that I have never fathomed out. The British troops must have learned a lot from local intelligence. They got a lot better at identifying who was who, especially who was a terrorist (from either side). One of my Northern Irish friends says he can say immediately if someone is Catholic or Protestant, merely by asking them to recite the alphabet. He claims that the give-away is the pronunciation of the letter “H”: a Protestant says “aitch” and a Catholic says “haitch”, he claims. Don’t ask me why this is so! My sister-in-law (a Catholic from Cork) does, however, say “haitch”, and my wife (a Protestant from Belfast) says “aitch”.

Yes, Mike is right: travel for Americans is expensive these days. We have the advantage of very cheap flights from the UK and a very strong pound - particularly if we visit the USA or Canada. I visited Canada and the USA in May this year, and I returned with a lot of spare cash as I had overestimated what things would cost. I should have known better, I guess, as I have visited the USA and/or Canada every year since 1993. We take three holidays abroad every year - and I now live mainly on my teacher's pension, supplemented by a small income from a business partnership.

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I watched Rumsfeld tonight on the news defending the attack on Fallujah by saying how "they" chop people's heads off. Very emotional stuff. Somehow though, I don't quite see the difference between that and getting blown up in a clinic. You're just as dead either way. And fundamentalism is at the heart of both actions. On that issue, I stand with John.

Rumsfeld went on to say how "there aren't going to be large numbers of civilians killed, and certainly not by U.S. forces..." Just as he added "not by US forces", Rumsfeld rubbed his nose. Anyone who understands body language will tell you that was a sure sign he either had grave doubts about what he was saying, or was outright lying.

I have to say, I knew Bush would win as soon as John Howard's conservatives romped home here. And what was the Labor Party reaction? What they said can be boiled down to this: if we are to regain power, we must be more like the conservatives. Trouble is, they are already playing Tweedle Dum to Howard's Tweedle Dee. Every time the conservatives move further to the right, so does the Labor Party. What they SHOULD do is show a little bit of intestinal fortitude, and get back to what they once stood for and sell THAT message. Why do I bring this up? Simply because I believe it is the same failing that the Dems have in the US. They don't have the backbone to represent a vision for the US which strays too far from the Republican version for fear that they may offend powerful groups. The idea that they cannot win unless they find another Carter-style Southern Baptist should be considered abhorent - especially if it's true.

Over the next four years I think we'll see a return to 60s style riots in the streets of blue states as the war on "terror" lurches its way from one trouble spot to another, the wealth gap becomes a canyon, business and government continue to find ways to dissemble on the environmental impact they have, and as freedoms and rights continue to be incrementally "disappeared".

Does it matter that Bush can only be in office for a max of another four years? Hell, yes!. There'll be a lot of eggs scrambled in that time - and there doesn't look like there is anyone on the horizon with the gumption to try and and unscramble 'em - even if it appeared somehow possible to do so.

Edited by Greg Parker

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Here are the percentages of the different groups who voted for Bush: Evangelical/Born Again (78), Protestant (59), Catholic (52), Jewish (25), Gun Ownership (63), Homosexuals (23), Trade Union Members (38), Married With Children (59), More than $200k (62), Less than $50k (43), White (58), Black (11), Men (55) and Women (48).

It is no coincidence that Bush did so well with the religious groups (except Jews who have a long record of holding liberal political views). People were asked: “What was the most important issue to you when voting?” as they left the polling booth. This was the result: Moral Values (22), Economy (20), Terrorism (19), Iraq (15), Healthcare (8), Taxes (5) and Education (4).

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include the numbers who bothered to vote. A high percentage of the Evangelical/Born Again Christians decided to cast their vote (20.7m for Bush). Whereas other groups that overwhelmingly supported Kerry (Blacks and those living in poverty) had low turnout rates. This was especially true in the Deep South. Despite having a lot of blacks and people living in poverty, every state was won by Bush. The reason for this is the turnout rate.

It is highly unlikely that Christian groups will lose their faith during the next four years. In the past these groups abstained in large numbers (Bush did not have much of an impact on this in 2000).

To win in 2008 the Democrats have to find someone who is appealing to those Christians in the Deep South. If they don’t do that, they will be beaten by the Republican candidate who will definitely be chosen to represent these views.

Good Analysis John. You're so right to stress voter turnout and the need for the Democrats to win states in the south. Very much what we learned in Political Science, except that in the old days (20th Century) people voted UP/DOWN on the economy every four years, like a referendum... and the FDR coalition held, until the Reagan Years, and really, Clinton.

Where up until Gore Bush 2000, Voters every Four years would vote their pocketbook, now there is more to it: Moral Values, Terrorism, Iraq War.

These are inculcated, indoctrinated, Rhetorically co-erced "political" positions...It really is Nineteen Eighty-Four, where a round robin of wars dodge around the globe to keep defense and security at record levels.

With a Soviet Threat gone, whence our Peace Dividend, our Pax Returna? (ugh) When Bush's reactionary son came into the Oval Office, the United States was revered as a bellweather bond market, a fair referee of markets, and a liberally educated elite capable of communicating with other nations, other national elites.

But the economy of the US is now cursed with an international reputation of FIXERS of markets, of bond schemers and BUDGET BUSTERS.

Wm. CLinton balanced and managed the federal budget, while W. Bush blew record trillion dollar deficits and tinkered, family in Savings and Loans, money losing energy and sports deals, Enron, Halliburton, Brown and Root Kellogg, the Republicans are seen as fixers and manipulators... corrupt in ways the Democrats, with their civil polish and enlightened ways avoid.

2003 saw stock gains on the back of a de-valued dollar, that was a one-time quick fix...Bush's domestic plan centers on SLASHING the category of workers entitled to be paid overtime...every slacker jackass with a collar and tie is a manager, suitable to be paid a salary, with blind hours (48?60? 72 Hours? Whatever it takes, you're a manager, heres your $21,800 salary, manager).

Its the culture, without good Jobs oriented Democrats at the top, the elites that make desisions to eliminate 100,000 Jobs, like Jack Welch at GE, etc etc the board executives and chairmen who decide to fire by the thousand to see marginal stock value fluctuations and froth they can rake in....they run the GOP and the country...so we see Bush placing corporate lobbyists, hostile to environmental and workplace regulation in position to enforce the laws, which THEY PREFER NOT TO DO... and the Federal Judges are reviled as activists, unless they are Scalia school of law, where they Look at EPA and OSHA and say I PREFER NOT TO... with the exception of a few showtrials, MICROSOFT and MARTHA, the federal gov't is not interested in enforcing ANTI-TRUST LAW. That has been abandoned. the Conglomerates, i.e Martin Marietta Lockheed, Mobil/Exxon, the Dupont Consolidated, ITT and ICI won and are winning....

Shanet

Edited by Shanet Clark

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Letter in today's Guardian:

I am a US citizen, one of the 50% that have been hanging their heads in shame for the past few years. I'm also an agnostic. But though I don't believe in the divinity of Christ, I do think he's a pretty good role model. I wish more of us, Christian, Muslim, or unaffiliated, stopped shouting about our beliefs and started living by them, as Margaret Hassan did. If there is a heaven, she's surely there now.

Karen Drayne, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA

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The figures about US elections from El Pais journal (november, 18) are the following:

For Bush voted: 40% of latin people, 45% of youngters, 50% of university educated people, 46% of new voters. About Religion: 47% of catholics voted for Kerry, 40% of protestans did too, and 74% of jews voted for Kerry too. Very similar to those offered by John Simkin. Only one thing, I don't really see Bush is supported by a clear christian fundametalism, What happens then?

[/ This was the result: Moral Values (22), Economy (20), Terrorism (19), Iraq (15), Healthcare (8), Taxes (5) and Education (4).

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include the numbers who bothered to vote. A high percentage of the Evangelical/Born Again Christians decided to cast their vote (20.7m for Bush). Whereas other groups that overwhelmingly supported Kerry (Blacks and those living in poverty) had low turnout rates. This was especially true in the Deep South. Despite having a lot of blacks and people living in poverty, every state was won by Bush. The reason for this is the turnout rate.]

Education, stupid, Education! That's another reason that explains the low turnout rate amongst poors and illiterate people

I think the American education system is mainly voccational oriented and it forgets about forming educated, responsible citizens. To be part of a nation which is the most powerful one in man's history is surely a deep responsability.

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One thing the US education system does do is parade "our right to vote" all the time. Students are told it's their civic duty and that US soldiers have died so they can "vote". I certainly agree that our educational system is geared towards vocation - and is becoming more so with the "No Child Left Behind" nonsense - but it also pushes "Voting" as a "Civic Duty".

So why don't more people vote? Because it doesn't make any difference. Their lives wouldn't have gotten any better had Kerry been elected - so why bother? Until we have real options here, there's not much point.

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Mike writes:

So why don't more people vote? Because it doesn't make any difference.

It's getting like that in the UK too. The turnout in local council elections is usually bad - around 30% in the area where I live, for example. General elections usually attract a higher turnout. I have always exercised my right to vote in every election since I reached voting age. But I did not bother to vote in the last election for the European Parliament. This the first time in my life that indifference got the better of me. I did not like any of the candidates, and I am completely disillusioned with party politics, especially in the European context. Looking back on my life, I can't honestly say that either of the two major parties has done me any great favours.

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No More Sham Elections

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: November 20, 2004

NYTimes Articles

One month ago today, I replied to this topic; let's see how MY ideas compare with those with "brighter lights than mine..." - As I had previously stated, I had a three-pronged plan for the elections here in the States:

IF nothing ELSE was proved over the past two years of CAMPAIGNING (yes, folks, it truly was TWO years, not merely ONE "official" year, as in times past...!) and the past three years of this globally unpopular "war on terror," these things have NOW been proven to be necessary - AND, I suggest that we ACT, while the pain is still fresh in the minds of everyone who was disappointed and/or DISGUSTED by the (ahem!) Presidential Election, we need to institute measures, immediately - if not sooner - to:

[1]Eliminate the "electoral college" and make "one person = one vote" a reality. Believe it or not, folks, we DO have the technology...we even have printing presses, and pens, and pencils!

[2]Completely REFORM the currently bastardized "system of checks and balances" --TAKE IT BACK to the original meaning that the Founding Father's had in mind when they devised and instituted the concept -- "The Executive is separate from the Legislative, is separate from the Judicial." (jeez, does NO ONE remember High School Civics, Government or American History class?) in order to eliminate the "in-bed-togetherness" currently so rampant among the three branches of government.

[3]We also need to run the government as a BUSINESS, with TRANSPARENCY, strict ACCOUNTABILITY, and SEVERE PENALTIES instituted and enforced upon anyone in any position of our Government who violates any Fiscal, Ethical, and Administrative boundaries in their official capacity. YOU DON'T WRITE THE CHECKS IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE MONEY IN YOUR ACCOUNT!!! If that axiom holds true for individuals and for businesses, should it not apply MORE SO to the collective "running of this country?"

These three items would be ENOUGH to for us accomplish, even as a "starting point," and they would be enough to make effective, long-term changes, in and of themselves, it seems to me.

These were a few of my ideas - now I know I am not the "...brightest bulb in the marquee," but here's what someone ELSE had to say in a NYTimes article this very day:

So what's the cure for our electoral diseases? Here are three ideas:

Have nonpartisan experts draw up boundaries for Congressional districts after each census. Both Republicans and Democrats have shamelessly drawn boundaries to serve their own needs, and that's one reason Congressional races are so uncompetitive. Normally, state legislatures do the redistricting, but Iowa and Arizona have handed the responsibility over to independent commissions.

Eliminate the Electoral College so that the president is chosen by popular vote. This was seriously discussed as a constitutional amendment after the 1968 election, when George Wallace's third-party candidacy could have prevented Richard Nixon from receiving a majority of the electoral vote. And in this election, if just 21,000 voters had changed their votes in Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa, the electoral vote would have been tied and the choice of the president would have gone to the House.

"We don't run elections well enough to have clear winners that we all accept if it's really close," said Rob Richie, executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy. "I think if the winning side had been ahead by only 20,000 votes in Ohio, the losing side wouldn't have accepted it."

It's time for America to develop the kind of full-fledged popular-vote democracy that is enjoyed by, say, the good people of Afghanistan.

Funnel campaign donations through a blind trust. The funkiest idea in politics is to make donations anonymous even to the recipient. Citizens would make contributions through a blind trust, so that candidates wouldn't know to whom they were beholden.

If officials don't know who their major contributors are, they can't invite them to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom or write tax loopholes. A donor might boast about having made a contribution, but special interests will realize they can save money by telling politicians that they have donated when they haven't, and then politicians will doubt these boasts.

Such a system of shielding names of donors exists in 10 states, to some degree, for judicial candidates. A provocative book by Bruce Ackerman and Ian Ayres, "Voting With Dollars," makes an excellent case that the system be applied more broadly, but we need some innovative state (Oregon, do you hear that?) to take the leap.

Chile is a nice role model. While the U.S. was finishing campaigns that were another embarrassing roll in the hay for politicians and lobbyists, Chile was holding its first elections using a new law with a blind trust for campaign donations of more than $500. Patricio Navia, a Chilean elections specialist at New York University, says the system has loopholes but is a big improvement.

"It's a clever idea," he said. "It's a promising way of separating special interests and politicians."

Our nation's founders were forthright and creative in establishing our political system. Today we need to be just as forthright in recognizing that the system is often dysfunctional - and just as creative in fixing it. If we're willing to introduce vigorous, competitive democracies in Iraq, why not do the same at home?

(The BOLDED statements are my own emphasis.) This was submitted by Mr. Nicholas D. Kristof and printed by The Times this morning...

Not that I have EVER been one who sits around and waits for others to "agree with my ideas" - I would like to think that I do have enough awareness of the generalities (and the "dysfunctions) of the American Political Process, to not only CRITICIZE the ineptitude of the system, but to offer suggestions (based in REALITY) about exactly what to do about it.

It's nice to see that someone else has confirmed the approach I postulated and has independently drawn similar conclusions about "how to FIX it." They say that great minds think alike - I might add the corrollary that "It sometimes it takes the other great minds a little while to get up to speed...!" LOL

CHEERS! :beer

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Sweden has a proportional system, where a party has to gain 4% of the votes nationally, or 12% in one particular constituency, in order to join the share-out of seats. Once a party has gained access, the votes are shared out in a scrupulously fair way. The net result is a series of minority governments, interspersed with coalition governments.

However, a turnout which comes anywhere near as low as 80% for a national election is regarded as something for long periods of heart-searching. A turn-out of about 82-84% is the norm.

The long, unbroken period of Social Democratic rule, from 1932 to 1976 took place at a time when there were general elections every 3 years. The Social Democrats only achieved a majority of their own once during that time, and were forced to take part in electoral alliances and negotiations at regular intervals. Whatever else you say about the Swedish electoral system, it does seem to represent what the majority of Swedish people want … They've recently increased the period each government sits to 4 years, which was muttered about at the time. Still, Göran Persson (and everyone else) knows that it'll be the second week of September 2006 when he has to face the polls again (unlike the rather strange system in the UK).

People here are generally bemused by the US system. They can't understand why it's so difficult to compile lists of eligible voters (something that happens automatically here, using a system which has been running since the middle of the 1600s). Neither can they understand why the technology of voting has to be so complicated. Equal treatment before the law is a really important aspect of Swedish official life (as a result of plenty of autocratic monarchs who didn't believe in it!), which makes hanging chads and voting machines without paper trails alien concepts here.

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The fact is most Americans won't become socially active (ie vote) until they are hurt somehow. Until the markets hit bottom and people are out of a job, the economy won't make much of a difference. Does that make it right? No, but that seems to be the trend for most Americans.

There was an interesting article in the NY Times today pointing out that the majority of people that voted for Bush on "moral" issues, don't agree with his policies concerning taxes, the economy, Iraq and social security. Does this mean that Carl Rove's work was successful? Do my fellow Americans really care more about abortion rights, and gay marriage than their own financial safety? More than America's role in the world? If so this begs the question of why.

I would have to agree with those who have posted before me that said that their is a large proportion of my country's citizens that are not well educated. Yes they graduated from high school, some may even have a college degree, but if it does not happen in their neighborhood or affect them directly they will not act on it.

I think that it was Mike Tolliver that made the comment that American Government classes teach about voting being a civic duty. THis is exactly what my collegues and I teach. Most of my students do not see voting as usefull. Part of this comes from living in a "red" state. If I vote for a democrate in Kansas my vote will go unheard. THe question that is being debated in many circles is, do we need to do away with the electoral college?

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