I guess Americans really are ego-centric

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Posted 11/7/2012 by ~Lauren~ in NSBR Board
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~Lauren~
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Posted: 11/7/2012 7:50:53 AM
I was intrigued by the number of non-American peas who have very strong thoughts about our elections.

I spoke with my friends about it last night and discovered none of us know about (or care about) elections in other countries. Aside from the UK we couldn't even tell you who heads any other country. We're all highly educated and involved in our federal, state and local issues. We just don't have any interest in what happens politically in others countries.

So why (and I'm not being snotty) do so many foreign (to us) citizens care one way or the other who we Americans elect?






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GrinningCat
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Posted: 11/7/2012 7:56:18 AM
Speaking as a Canadian,

Your government, the relationship between our countries, and the policies that your government may pass can directly influence what happens in our country. Canada and the US are so intertwined, that we'd be foolish to not pay attention to what's going on and have a working knowledge of the key players who may influence not only our economy but our foreign policy.

I guess it just comes down to the fact that many Canadians believe it's important to be knowledgeable about what's going around the world rather than just what's going on in our own backyard.

Hope that makes sense.

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Posted: 11/7/2012 7:57:48 AM
I THINK it's perhaps because, according to my friends from other countries, we really put ourselves out there. More so than other countries. I suppose it's that whole "American doesn't really know how to fly under the radar."

Our politics are certainly intriguing enough, for sure.

And I honestly believe we are truly the most ethnocentric country in the world. (Hey-that sounded ethnocentric, lol!)

(Running away so you don't yell at me. 'Cause I enjoy you muchly on this forum. Ever since we chatted about Olay Regenerist.)



~Lauren~
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Posted: 11/7/2012 7:59:27 AM
Why would I yell at you? I really do think it's interesting.

Personally, I'm an isolationist. I think the US should stay within it's own borders both militarily and financially. We should keep our soldiers and our money right here.





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Posted: 11/7/2012 7:59:48 AM
Why am I getting a sense of deja vu? I really think that we've had this exact conversation on more than one occassion.

As GC has said, Canada is your largest trading partner and you are ours. It would border on stupid not to pay close attention to what is happening, politically, in your country.


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~Lauren~
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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:00:59 AM
Are you saying by implication that it's stupid of Americans not to pay attention to what Canada is doing? Because really, I can't see that it impacts the US at all who you elect or don't elect. Our countries are not at all similar in their politics or their philosophy.





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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:08:26 AM

Are you saying by implication that it's stupid of Americans not to pay attention to what Canada is doing? Because really, I can't see that it impacts the US at all who you elect or don't elect.
Not saying that it's stupid at all. I don't understand not wanting to know, nor do I think that an isolationist policy is feasible in our global society.

It can definitely affect you who we elect and what kind of federal government we have in play. As Jo said, we're you're largest trading partner. Our goods and our economy definitely can play a role and affect the US. Things like the tar sands, the pipeline to the refineries, the new bridge to Michigan, are all beneficial to both countries.

There's also a close relationship between the US and Canada through our militaries and our shared border.

I don't know, I just think that knowing at least the basics about foreign governments is a good thing. But I'm curious about everything and like to know the five Ws about most topics.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:08:31 AM
I'm interested because how America votes affects the rest of the world. Aside from the obvious aspects like foreign policy, I'm also aware that as a citizen of the UK, I see a lot of cultural influences from the US in filtering down into our culture too. I'm concerned that if the US swings far to the right, certain things I'm opposed to may become culturally the norm here.

I'm not only interested in US politics though, I'm interested in world affairs as a whole. The fact that the US is one of our closest allies makes me that bit more interested.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:08:39 AM

I guess it just comes down to the fact that many Canadians believe it's important to be knowledgeable about what's going around the world rather than just what's going on in our own backyard.



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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:09:45 AM

Personally, I'm an isolationist. I think the US should stay within it's own borders both militarily and financially.
I would be interested to see what that would look like.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:10:36 AM

I'm also aware that as a citizen of the UK, I see a lot of cultural influences from the US in filtering down into our culture too. I'm concerned that if the US swings far to the right, certain things I'm opposed to may become culturally the norm here.


That's a very good point. Culturally, the States are a huge influence.

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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:11:57 AM

Because really, I can't see that it impacts the US at all who you elect or don't elect. Our countries are not at all similar in their politics or their philosophy.
We buy 63% of your exports. I don't see how it couldn't impact you.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:16:18 AM
I personally like hearing from the non-US peas. I like getting some perspective from outside the country on how the US is viewed. And I'm NOT an isolationist; I think we live in a global community and what happens economically and politically in other countries affects us, just as what the US does affects much of the rest of the world in large and small ways.

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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:17:35 AM

I'm also aware that as a citizen of the UK, I see a lot of cultural influences from the US in filtering down into our culture too. I'm concerned that if the US swings far to the right, certain things I'm opposed to may become culturally the norm here.




I agree with this. We have such a close alliance with the sates and have for many years- of course we care who is elected. The USA is such a huge influence in many ways, all across the world and whatever happens there will trickle down and across the pond.

I think the States is such a huge country that many people do become very introspective- to me you are like many countries all banded together with different time zones, climates etc, so maybe that is all many citizens can be bothered with? I also think your enviable level of patriotism feeds into this

I do think that the States are a little ego-centric. You are still a very young country in many ways, and I think of the place as a bit like a teenager believing the world revolves around you ( in the nicest possible way, lol!)


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:21:36 AM
I think it is important to know what is going on in the major nations of the world. As close neighbours, I can't help but be interested to know what is going on in your country. When you travel there regularly and interact with Americans on a daily basis, it is impossible not to know what is going on. Plus, it is covered in our news. Important elections of major countries around the world are always covered in our news.






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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:26:12 AM

I do think that the States are a little ego-centric. You are still a very young country in many ways, and I think of the place as a bit like a teenager believing the world revolves around you ( in the nicest possible way, lol!)


Wait...the world doesn't revolve around us? Just kidding of course. I agree we are egocentric. In fact, that will probably come back to bite us sooner rather than later.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:31:11 AM

I do think that the States are a little ego-centric. You are still a very young country in many ways, and I think of the place as a bit like a teenager believing the world revolves around you ( in the nicest possible way, lol!)


That's a great analogy, UKSue.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:34:27 AM
Non- American here. Because when America sneezes, everyone catches cold. Of course this applies to other centres of power too.

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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:34:49 AM
Most of the meat in the grocery stores in my town and most importantly the maple syrup plus fresh berries, come from Canada. Probably the seafood too. Thank you Canada.


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~Lauren~
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Posted: 11/7/2012 8:58:36 AM

Personally, I'm an isolationist. I think the US should stay within it's own borders both militarily and financially.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I would be interested to see what that would look like.


So would I. Yes, we're in a global age but much of the dislike of America comes from our interference in the affairs of others. And frankly, this country has enough poor, out-of-work and elderly who could benefit by our resources. It's ridiculous to send huge financial aid packages to other countries when our own are hurting and we are in such dire financial staits.

And I don't see that who you elect as Prime Minister has or would have much an impact of our trade with you just as I don't believe who is President has much of an impact. Our Congress and your Parliament play a much larger role in that.





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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:08:20 AM

discovered none of us know about (or care about) elections in other countries. Aside from the UK we couldn't even tell you who heads any other country. We're all highly educated and involved in our federal, state and local issues. We just don't have any interest in what happens politically in others countries.



Please speak for yourself, unless you are using the Royal "We" here.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:09:48 AM

Our Congress and your Parliament play a much larger role in that.
Unlike the US, our Parliament and our Prime Minister are not two separate entities.


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~Lauren~
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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:12:26 AM
Jennie, considering that the phrase you're objecting to is imbedded in my comments about myself and my friends, I think it's pretty clear who the "we" refers to.





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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:22:23 AM

We should keep our soldiers and our money right here.
We would have so much money, we would not know what to do with it! We are a bleeding checkbook to so many countries, it actually makes me sick. When and how did WE become the caretaker country?



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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:26:54 AM

So why (and I'm not being snotty) do so many foreign (to us) citizens care one way or the other who we Americans elect?



Yup, ego-centric, that's for sure.

Perhaps your definition of well-educated is vastly different than what other countries consider well-educated.





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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:31:55 AM

Probably the seafood too. Thank you Canada.


Except the Alaskan King Crab.



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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:44:26 AM

I spoke with my friends about it last night and discovered none of us know about (or care about) elections in other countries. Aside from the UK we couldn't even tell you who heads any other country. We're all highly educated and involved in our federal, state and local issues. We just don't have any interest in what happens politically in others countries.

Perhaps it's your location (I don't know where you are)?

Most of the people I associate with, and I'm no political junkie, do know the leaders of some other countries (especially those countries that border ours and those in which we are fighting), and are aware of how those countries are doing politically.

I believe Isolationism would leave the US poached in its own weaknesses within two generations. We need other countries for social and economic health. I think the constant churn of different ideas, which are formed by people from a variety of cultures throughout the world and by those who have a world vision as opposed to a country-centric one, is one of the main things that makes this country great.




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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:52:46 AM
Some great responses from non-US folk. I agree with the other Brits.

We see the US as one of our closest allies in foreign policy and who is your president/ruling party is a big thing in a feeling of security in that relationship (hence the way Romney screwed up in the UK being seen as a big red flag to people here). The way we both joined forces in WW2 and Iraq are examples of the closeness between our two nations.

I also see that many countries of the world are inter-dependent for trade and economic well-being. The US is one of the largest consumer nations in the world and very important as a trading partner. The economic success of the US is very important to the economic success of other countries.

The saying 'no man is an island' comes to mind!





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Posted: 11/7/2012 9:59:45 AM
I think it's because our country plays a large role throughout the world and our economy affects other economies--for example the value of our dollar tends to send economic ripples around the world. We're also a huge importer and exporter, so what goes on there affects other countries.

And also, silly things like our movies and music travel around the world, which also brings interest to our country. I know I had friends visit from Scotland who made assumptions about us just from all the movies that they had seen, some important and some trivial. For example, we went to a county fair and it was dubbed as very "Steel Magnolias." They were also very intrigued to sample candy corn.


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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:04:24 AM

I do think that the States are a little ego-centric. You are still a very young country in many ways, and I think of the place as a bit like a teenager believing the world revolves around you ( in the nicest possible way, lol!)


American born and raised and have never left, and I think this is an excellent analogy to how many people in the US are. (But just remember, not all of us).


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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:10:42 AM
I suspect it's because our elections are covered by the news media in other countries, whereas our news outlets don't give a lot of coverage to elections in other countries. More a reflection on the media than your average American. I listen to some programs on CBC, and therefore follow some Canadian politics.

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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:18:14 AM

I do think that the States are a little ego-centric. You are still a very young country in many ways, and I think of the place as a bit like a teenager believing the world revolves around you ( in the nicest possible way, lol!)


American born and raised and have never left, and I think this is an excellent analogy to how many people in the US are. (But just remember, not all of us).


I live in Germany and have met a lot of very lovely Americans here. Naturally, living abroad has probably had an impact on them, but they were likely all lovely people when they first came here!
I have also met some other Americans who only seem to compare things to 'back home' and complain - so much so that I feel like telling them to go back, if it's so much better. Then again, I've also met a lot of British and Australian people like that.

I can understand why those of us outside the US take an interest in US politics - decisions made there can affect us all. It is less likely that a decision made by the Australian PM would affect the US much. But I think that the world has gone past the point where we can afford to be insular. Global trade is a fact of life and I don't think it's possible to turn back the clock.


Sue


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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:26:47 AM

I guess Americans really are ego-centric



Some maybe but I wouldn't say all of them. I would also add that some of them are also ethnocentric too.

You have to remember that the world is shrinking Lauren, not in the geographical way but most certainly in every other way.

Britain is one of your closest allies, if not the closest. It's of interest to many of us here who you have in the White House together with some knowledge of the policies of the occupant.

The level of cooperation between the US and the UK in economic activity, trade and commerce, military planning, execution of military operations, nuclear weapons technology, and intelligence sharing are to me, important and interesting. What the two candidates had to say about any of these was important.


Personally, I'm an isolationist. I think the US should stay within it's own borders both militarily and financially.



So would I. Yes, we're in a global age but much of the dislike of America comes from our interference in the affairs of others. And frankly, this country has enough poor, out-of-work and elderly who could benefit by our resources. It's ridiculous to send huge financial aid packages to other countries when our own are hurting and we are in such dire financial staits.



You see these two quotes do not make sense to me. You cannot chose to want your country to be isolated but only on the question of foreign aid.

You either believe in isolations as a country ie. you are *totally* on your own in trade, military, foreign policy,global intelligence economy OR you join everyone else on all the other things too. You cannot pick and chose what you( as a country) want to participate in.
You ( as a country) do not have the resources or the knowledge in the 21st century to be in isolation from the rest of the world.
But I do agree with you that military you shouldn't be so quick to judge and occupy other countries unless you have a very sound reason to do so that directly affects the security of your own country.
This is where the US get judged - collectively you come across to others are " we know it all and we're always right"

Do I think that? No, I've met enough Americans to know that this isn't a general attitude but having read a lot of the political threads on here over the last few weeks I have to admit that I have been very surprised at the lack of knowledge by many about the world outside of the US.










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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:39:05 AM

So why (and I'm not being snotty) do so many foreign (to us) citizens care one way or the other who we Americans elect?




I don't think it's surprising that people in other countries follow American politics more closely than we follow their politics. By anyone's standards, the U.S. is still considered a major player in world politics and in the international economy.

Also, we've travelled abroad a few times since President Obama was elected and I think he has the same rock star effect in other countries that he has here in America. My husband and I never bring up politics when we are travelling, but I can't tell you how many Europeans have said to us "Oh, you are from America, you must just love President Obama."


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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:44:25 AM

Are you saying by implication that it's stupid of Americans not to pay attention to what Canada is doing? Because really, I can't see that it impacts the US at all who you elect or don't elect. Our countries are not at all similar in their politics or their philosophy.


But we share a border and we're much more alike then we are with other countries in the world.

If we were going to elect a PM who was interested in performing nuclear tests right next to our US border, I bet the US would be interested. Likewise, if you are going to elect a president who is going to anger other countries and therefore put the US at risk of war or terrorism threats, then that would interest us as we're right next door. Trade aside, we have a very peaceful border (usually) that is fully open. I remember a time when this was not the case. But nowadays, when there is so much free flow between our two countries, what goes on in yours is important. We watch your gun laws (because your guns can flow into our country illegally), we watch your drug laws (because your drugs can flow into our country illegally), and we watch for many other policies that affect us probably more then you'd realize.

p.






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Posted: 11/7/2012 10:58:15 AM

I do think that the States are a little ego-centric. You are still a very young country in many ways, and I think of the place as a bit like a teenager believing the world revolves around you ( in the nicest possible way, lol!)


American born and raised and have never left, and I think this is an excellent analogy to how many people in the US are. (But just remember, not all of us).


My comment was meant very kindly. I have several real-life American friends and love your culture, your patriotism and lots of other things about you. There are zealots in every country- we certainly have plenty here, so I meant no offence with my analogy, it was actually meant in an affectionate way


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Posted: 11/7/2012 11:23:22 AM
I plead the 5th

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Posted: 11/7/2012 11:33:05 AM

So why (and I'm not being snotty) do so many foreign (to us) citizens care one way or the other who we Americans elect?

Well, it's because the leader of America is the leader of the free world.
That's what we're told anyway.

But seriously, other countries do hear a lot about the American election because America is a major player in global affairs. It probably isn't who the President is per se that is important, but more what direction America is likely to take in various matters, and those 2 things go hand-in-hand.

Where I live, (a tiny island country in the bottom corner of the world) we also hear about elections in many other countries, especially Australia, UK, Canada, France, and Germany. I guess that is because we are so reliant on trade with other countries and so their political stance is important to us.

(BTW, I was just teasing with the 'free world' comment)




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Posted: 11/7/2012 11:37:51 AM

You cannot pick and chose what you( as a country) want to participate in.



Of course we can; just as every other country can. We can choose to trade, we can choose whether or not to send in our military and we can choose whether or not to send foreign financial aid to countries. It's not an all or nothing proposition. Do you really think the UK won't trade with us because we may choose not to send foreign aid to any particular third world country? I don't. So, yes, we CAN pick and choose.





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Posted: 11/7/2012 12:00:03 PM
I'm Canadian and so the proximity has a lot to do with it... Not so much in the papers, but we're bombarded with ads on tv telling us who to vote for, the debates interrupt our regularly scheduled programming, and Canada Day is three days before the Fourth of July yet there is twice as much red, white, and blue in our stores and it's there all year long... So I'd chalk it up to marketing

Plus there's a lot of you guys... There have been a lot of big things happening in Canadian politics in the past few months, at both national and provincial levels, yet I don't ever remember seeing a thread about any of it... Just not enough Peas to carry it, so the rest of the Peas don't randomly come across the information...

Perhaps it is also due to 'national character... For example, every Canadian I know believes that however someone votes, that person believes they are making the right vote... I think the common opinion here is that if someone is doing the 'right thing', it's going to take more than flags or balloons or media sound bites for them to change their mind... The discussions and debates that happen in society are more subdued, slower paced, and well, dry

I can't say that I truly care who you guys elect, but it's hard to not be exposed to the show and get caught up in the excitement... It's exciting to see that many people get involved in something that decides a future path...


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PennyPaws
StuckOnPeas

PeaNut 551,978
April 2012
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Posted: 11/7/2012 12:24:02 PM
"Because really, I can't see that it impacts the US at all who you elect or don't elect. Our countries are not at all similar in their politics or their philosophy."

The fact that we are dissimilar is why it is important... What you might expect or take for granted might not be there since we don't think or run things like you would... We have oil/gas, huge natural reserves/resources, a large I defended border, immigration problems (that should be making you concerned about terrorists entering your country from Canada), we have a claim to the North Pole and the unwater rights, we guard a large portion of the Arctic and Northwest Passage, we have a stable economy and different trade partners/practices than you... We have strengths that could help you and we have weakness that could hurt you... And what we do next is decided by who we vote for... Not paying attention means you're putting a lot of blind trust in us to do things that are good for you, or that at least don't threaten you... It's fine with us - just means you can't really complain if something bites you down he road...

In this day and age there are few countries that couldn't have some effect on America because of how things are connected... Greece had a huge impact on economies all over the world... Contagious diseases (innocently or intentionally) can spend anywhere in the world in less than a day... Environmental problems are global in nature... Weapons testing and procurement can upset previous balances of power...

It's completely fine and understandable to focus on your own country... But starting at home is different than pretending the neighbours don't exist...


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Yubon
lunch is for wimps

PeaNut 261,669
May 2006
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Posted: 11/7/2012 1:07:36 PM
I watched all of the European elections very closely over the last year, and am watching the Chinese elections this week. I also paid attention to the Mexican local elections because my boss' father ran in one of them.

I don't talk about it though because it would make me sound like a complete dork.

I pretty much agree with the OP in that most Americans don't really care unless they think it directly affects them. Sad, really.



Maryland
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 87,597
May 2003
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Posted: 11/7/2012 1:25:02 PM
Good question! I really don't follow elections in other countries and don't expect them to follow ours either. Of course I do know there are some people that have great interest in foreign elections (my inlaws) as they do a lot of foreign travel.

obsidian
StuckOnPeas

PeaNut 300,909
March 2007
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Posted: 11/7/2012 3:05:29 PM

Personally, I'm an isolationist. I think the US should stay within it's own borders both militarily and financially. We should keep our soldiers and our money right here.


After The USSR collapsed America was the leader of the westernized world. It couldn't stay out.

Wellington Washington agreement. My country is now closely bound to the USA. We host a listening post for the USA government in the south Island and have done so for decades.

Australia hosts Nukes for the USA.

Everybody is bound together.

The way Americans vote affects the world.

And then there is the fact the USA consumes exports from china at such a high rate.

Though I'm only interested in this election because of Romney.

kmoller
PeaNut

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September 2012
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Posted: 11/7/2012 3:17:24 PM
Exports and imports between Canada and the US last year were about $700 billion dollars. I'm not sure how one can say that we're not really alike. We're both democratic nations (as opposed to communist etc., not democrats and republicans), and we both have interests around the globe. We're your most trusted country. America's reach extends beyond its borders. Given that, I would hope that anyone living within those borders would have an appreciation and understanding of what's going on in the world around them, and not be centric on their own little world. I mean this in a nice way. When you know more about the bigger picture you can make a more informed decision, regardless of what the question might be. ie - would you rather vacation in Somalia or Ireland? Knowing what's going on in the world allows you to make the better choice there...
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therevolution
BucketHead

PeaNut 556,376
June 2012
Posts: 958
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Loc: Bay Area University

Posted: 11/7/2012 3:46:59 PM
Ego-centric and ethnocentric sounds about right.

Luvspaper
AncestralPea

PeaNut 24,564
November 2001
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Posted: 11/7/2012 3:59:01 PM
I think part of it is because some of us pay a lot of attention to politics in the different states. For example, being in HR, I really pay attention to the policies that come out of California. That includes state elections there and who they elect to national spots or who are appointed. I honestly don't have a lot of time to think about the politics in other countries except whether the players are friends of the USA or not...

gar
Whoopea!

PeaNut 172,235
October 2004
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Posted: 11/7/2012 4:18:56 PM
Are you, Americans generally, taking much notice of the impending new leadership in China? Not an election in the same sense but nonetheless a change that could have a big impact on other big economies.


Today, I will be colouring outside the lines.


heartcat
International Association of Epic Length Posters

PeaNut 51,429
October 2002
Posts: 40,314
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Loc: Where dreams come true

Posted: 11/7/2012 4:53:48 PM
Americans, in general, seem to love to talk about politics more than the citizens of any nation that I am familiar with. And not just at election time, but all of the time.

If anyone spends any time at all on a message board that has a significant American membership, they are going to hear about American politics. Even on threads that are not, at first glance, political, but would generally be considered more social (abortion, gay marriage, etc.)

And American politics is very divisive and very heated. People like drama. For those of us in Canada, we get a lot of American t.v., so we see a lot of political ads and political news.

So it's not like we have to go searching for information on American politics. It's pretty much there. I don't honestly know how interested the average Canadian would be in American politics if information wasn't so readily available.

But since it is, since it is often fraught with drama, and since it usually involves key social issues that people usually have strong feelings about, I think it's natural that non=Americans form opinions and express an interest.

I don't think I know more about politics in America because I am fascinated with the U.S. per se, while I know next to nothing about Sweden because I don't care about Swedish politics. I think it's partly a matter of impact, us being neighbours, but mostly a matter of access.

The chasm between our political parties is not as wide, the personalities do not factor as prominently, and the issues are generally more Canadian specific and less 'social'. And Canadians, and it seems citizens of other nations, tend to talk less about our politics. So there isn't the same access or level of 'human interest'.


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AmeliaBloomer
BucketHead

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May 2011
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Posted: 11/7/2012 5:35:22 PM
Americans get every little international news, political or otherwise. We're not interested. Compare the BBC news broadcast to typical US broadcasts.

If we know so little about the rest of the world, how in the world (tee, hee) can we so frequently proclaim that we are the "best" country in the world, the most blessed (interthreaduality alert), or the most free? (patently false)

I would put more stock in American Exceptionalism if we served it with small slice of humble pie.





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