Curious About American and Canadian Politics...

Reply Thu 2 Nov, 2006 11:27 am
Someone sent me this - it's from Bill Maher's show from last Friday. It's from his "New Rules" segment.

"And finally, New Rule: America must stop bragging that it's the greatest country on earth and start acting like it. [applause] [cheers] Now, I know - I know this is uncomfortable for the faith-over-facts crowd, but the greatness of a country can, to a large degree, be measured. Here are some numbers: Infant mortality rate, America ranks 48th in the world; overall health, 72nd; freedom of the press, 44; literacy, 55th. Do you realize there are 12-year-old kids in this country who can't spell the name of the teacher they're having sex with? [laughter] [applause]

Now, America, I will admit, has done many great things: making the New World democratic comes to mind, the Marshall Plan, curing polio, beating Hitler, the deep-fried Twinkie. [laughter] But what have we done for us lately? We're not the freest country. That would be Holland, where you can smoke hash in church, and Janet Jackson's nipple is on their flag. [laughter] [applause]

And, sadly, we're no longer a country that can get things done, either. Not big things, like building a tunnel under Boston or running a war with competence. We had six years to fix the voting machines. Couldn't get that done. The FBI is just now getting email!

Prop 87 out here in California is about lessening our dependence on oil by using alternative fuels, and Bill Clinton comes on at the end of the ad and says, "If Brazil can do it, America can, too." [laughter] [applause] Excuse me, since when did America have to buck itself up by saying we could catch up to Brazil?! [laughter] We invented the airplane and the lightbulb. They invented the bikini wax, and now they're ahead?! [laughter] [applause]

In most of the industrialized world, nearly everyone has health care. And hardly anyone doubts evolution. And, yes, having to live amid so many superstitious dimwits is also something that affects quality of life. It's why America isn't going to be the country that gets the inevitable patents in stem cell cures, because Jesus thinks it's too close to cloning!

Oh, and did I mention we owe China a trillion dollars? We owe everybody money. America is a debtor nation to Mexico! We're not on a bridge to the 21st century. We're on a bus to Atlantic City with a roll of quarters. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

And this is why it bugs me that so many people talk like it's 1955 and we're still number one in everything. We're not. And I take no glee in saying this, because I love my country, and I wish we were. But when you're number 55 in this category and number 92 in that one, you look a little silly waving the big foam "Number One" finger. [laughter]

As long as we believe being the greatest country in the world is a birthright, we'll keep coasting on the achievements of earlier generations and we'll keep losing the moral high ground. Because we may not be the biggest or the healthiest or the best educated. But we always did have one thing no other place did. We knew soccer was bull----. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

AndÂ…and we also had a little thing called the Bill of Rights. A great nation doesn't torture people or make them disappear without a trial. Bush keeps saying the terrorists hate us for our freedom. And he's working damn hard to see that pretty soon that won't be a problem. [applause] "

Why do Americans seem to be so polarized when it comes to politics? Either you're a Bush-hater or you're a Bush-lover, generally speaking, of course. (I'm not taking about the small but rational group that weighs things up and sees both sides). I've seen Americans get really riled up and attack each other over issues and people and campaign tricks and whatnot... why is it all taken so seriously in the States?

It seems to me that Canadians bash everyone, whatever flavour they are, and we like doing it. It's probably a national past-time, right after hockey. When we get into a debate, it's usually not heated, or if it is, it's not personal, at least.

Do you think that, in general, we Canadians just don't care enough or don't feel especially connected with a particular party or politican? Or are too cynical to really care anymore and don't believe anyone?

Or are we too busy trying to keep warm to give it a thought? I bet most Canadians could name or identify more hockey players than politicians. Laughing

Really, I am curious, though.
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Reply Thu 2 Nov, 2006 12:12 pm
It's actually a small population of Americans that follow politics and one should hardly use the rantings on the internet as examples of actual interactions between people. I bet if you put Setanta and I in a room, we could have a pleasant conversation and neither of us would broach the political topics that we discuss on the internet. I very rarely share my personal political opinions with my friends. Mostly because we all generally have the same point of view. I am sorry to say that I havevery few "ultra-liberal" friends, though my room-mate in college, who is still a good friend, could be considered one. But we rarely talk anymore beyond christmas cards.

Most Americans can also name far more sports figures then politicians. But, one thing that can be said about Americans is that we don't lack an opinion. Even if it is on something we may not actually know much about, everyone has an opinion on it.
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Reply Thu 2 Nov, 2006 04:35 pm
Maybe I should have said why do so many Americans on chatboards etc etc because you never see too many other nationalities arguing about their politicians. I'm sure over a few ales they can get into it, but it does seem to be a peculiarly American proclivity.
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Reply Thu 2 Nov, 2006 04:52 pm
Internationally speaking, I would think that their relative freedoms to openly discuss politics would be one factor...and, compared to Canada, the US has ten times the population...so their sheer numbers appear to offset their perceived political interest.

I have no idea what the proportions would be, but I think that McG was accurate in his statement about politics vs sport.
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