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Are Americans unique worldwide in their belief that they are involved in the democratic process

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posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 01:16 PM
My apologies if this has been covered. I suspect it probably has in a roundabout kind of way but I would like to hear some specific opinion on whether or not people think Americans are the only group of people who truly believe that they have an element of choice or guiding force in determining how their country is run?

This could apply to any nation, but at the risk of getting too vague and given the current circumstances, we'll stick to the US...

What brought this to my mind was a discussion I had with some folks in Sweden a few weeks ago. I was on a work trip and was staying in some rented accommodation. The other people in the building were over to take part in some course or other - an international diploma of some sort. They were all from different countries. Two from the US, one Israeli, one Peruvian, one Turkish, one Australian, two Belgian, one Dutch, three from African nations, a Canadian, one from Singapore and me, a Brit. Importantly, they were all there for the same reason, with the same qualifications, similarly privileged upbringing and, presumably, broadly similar outlooks on life. To me, they were about as good as a representative multinational sample group could get!

What got me thinking was when a news bite came on the TV about the US election (the only thing in English!!) a discussion between the two Americans quickly turned into quite a heated debate about who's candidate was the 'best' and resulted in each one accusing the other of "dissing their guy". While this was going on, I asked if they really, honestly thought it would make the slightest difference to how the country is run at a fundamental level and the Australian and myself initially thought they were joking when they said "of course"...

That got a load of the other people involved in the discussion and my impression was that the two Americans were the only people in the room of fifteen people that thought they could truly make a difference to how their country is run (through the basic democratic process). There were a few (not many) in the room who believed their vote made a difference in their own country, but couldn't see how the selection process for US president could possibly allow people to choose the best man for the job.

So, are Americans the only people in the world who believe that they choose their leader, and that their choice between two candidates really is a choice? And that, whatever the choice, the leader can/will change the way the nation functions at anything other than a superficial level?

On the basis of my experience, I'd have to say I think they probably are, and I'd take it a bit further. Why were the two US students (all students were between the ages of 21 to 30 I'd say) the only ones who had never even considered this question when perhaps it applies most obviously to the US?

Sorry for the long post, but I thought it was an interesting question....

P.S. Incidentally, one of the US students was the only one to ask me, in all seriousness, if the LHC at CERN was going to bring about the end of the world when she found out I was a scientist... I'm saying nothing.... :-)

[edit on 9-9-2008 by Dr. N]

posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 01:24 PM
I live in the U.S. and I write my elected officials all the time and tell them what I think, what I want, and offer ideas. They always respond. Whether they act upon it or try to is another subject.

The elected officials are to represent the wants and needs of people in their areas. However, it is a corrupted system and they forget they are public servants.

What I see as a huge problem here in the U.S. is people not voting, and people not telling their representatives what they want.

People will watch the news and complain, listen to talk radio and call in and complain but never write their representatives or get involved.

posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 01:47 PM

Originally posted by SailorinAZ
Whether they act upon it or try to is another subject.

Well, unfortunately it's the "other subject" that is the problem, and is what I was trying to get at in the post. The question is do you believe that what you are doing contributes to the policy of the US government on any major issues? It's nice to think that it does and don't get me wrong, if everyone wrote letters the world would be a much better place, but I'm not so sure we have that 'power' - and I certainly don't have unquestioning faith in it as these two students did. That's my point.

Out of a group of 15 similar people from all over the world, the couple from the US were the only ones that didn't question whether or not they were making a difference. They were sure they had personally selected the presidential candidates etc. I'd love to believe that it's true, that US citizens have this unwaivering belief in 'democracy' because they are truly in control of their destiny and always have/will be, but really? Come on......

posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 02:08 PM
What an individual does as an individual most likely has no bearing on major decisions.

If enough people wrote their officials then minor decisions or the direction of the country could be altered. If enough people were involved and voted, it would effect who was elected and somewhat effect major decisions.

I guess the people of the U.S. do have the capability to make an impact to some degree.

The majority of the U.S. Citizens finally got sick of all the illegals and stood up to and made their wants made known to their officials which did effect the amnesty bill, etc..

[edit on 9-9-2008 by SailorinAZ]

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