Government In North America Intrigues Me More Now
Growing up in western Europe and frequently visiting the US. It was only a matter of time before I was intrigued by the government in North America.
No doubt we have many things in common with Americans.. For instance; a strong, strategic alliance that has been the pinnacle of shaping the world order for over 50 years; a commitment to true democratic principles; as well as some of the best living standards in the world. Despite some economic challenges in the past few years.
However, I cant help but marvel at the stark differences we have with Americans. As Europeans, our perspectives on the role of government, morality, religion, individualism. Free expression are a far cry from how most Americans perceive those things.
Over time, I’ve been keenly observing various political events in North America, particularly US politics. There are some interesting observations I’ve made.
Strength is weakness
As you already know; the US government is a self-checking system where various parts of government oversee each other. It’s a two-party system with an elaborate system of checks and balances. That, to some extent, help to curb any excesses, that one arm of government may likely commit.
On the positive side, these checks and balances are important in a two-party setting like the US. It prevents the party which has their man in The White House from simply steam rolling the other party and do as they wish.
However, I find that this system’s positives may be its drawbacks as well. Any attempt at consensus politics is likely to fail or hit a deadlock all the time. The 2013 temporary shutdown of government due to a deadlock on Obamacare is the clearest example of the contradictions. That typically results when an attempt at consensus fails. No doubt the impasse was a collision between two irreconcilable ideologies. For which there is no solution provided by the constitution.
I know enough about the US government to realize that this deadlock; as well as ultimately the government shutdown; was just some absurd grandstanding, just as it is with most of US two-party politics. In effect, it seemed like this was a government quarreling with itself.
I can understand the deep ideological differences
Between the two parties are a lot of touchy issues. Typically, the main ideological arguments are the same as those that play out across Europe’s right and left political divide.
However, what was hard to get my head around was why an issue; such as health care, seemed to undermine some people’s sense of Americanism, particularly politicians. Modern government certainly has a couple of over-reaches but bettering the equity of health security appeared to be an unusual one for which politicians would lose their sense of Americanism. Particularly when various governments – the US included; were already over-reaching into other sovereign states to fight so-called terrorism. Not that eliminating terrorists is wrong but just that I would assume that it would lead to more heated debate. Perhaps raise more hackles.
Thankfully, in my country the major political parties understand that the concept of a free health care system is so important to the wider public that they spend a great of their ‘political’ time trying to accuse each other of trying to destroy the system.
Role of government on individual prosperity: Contradictions
When it comes to the way most Americans view their government’s role in individual liberty, the contradictions can’t be more glaring.
Americans generally believe that their government is obligated to ‘fix’ issues that affect an individual’s ability to pursue their goals. While at the same time they prioritize individual liberty. With less or no interference at all from government.
Like most Europeans, I value the role of my government to ensure that there are as few needy individuals as possible. Of course, I have high esteem for the American way but the contractions don’t influence that view in a way that is positive.
In all, it’s always interesting to view the government as well as politics in the US from an outsider’s point of view. It’s an intriguing spectacle for outsiders. Sometimes, it resembles a playground squabble. Some aspects of it are simply ridiculous to the rest of us around the world. Especially to those people for whom democracy is far from a practical reality.