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July 20, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Ask an American

American Politics

When I started writing this column, the world was wrapped up in the American politics, Obama had just become the first African-American President, and we were all sinking in a military-industrian quagmire. These days it’s a bit more nebulous, as interest in American politics has waned. I operate on the (rather large) assumptions that you 1.) give a damn about American politics at all, and 2.) that you care to hear my two cents.

So to make this all the more painful, I ask you for your opinions. What are some things that you just don’t get about America and Americans (like how they feel entitled to spew their political ramblings in a foreign country’s university publication)? Did you ever wonder to yourself, “My God! How did they let that happen?” There’s always more to it than you’d think. We’re not actually that stupid… most of the time.

In short, I want to hear from you. Because I only see the world through my eyes, I don’t want to waffle on about issues that only I care about, while you sit, rolling your eyes at the sight of my words. I know this could open a flood gate that I’d rather not see open, but that’s the fun part. Let’s get a dialogue going; so much has been happening in American politics since we last met.

The torture debate has died out… along with my angst and doom-n-gloom outlook on the state of my country (and state). It was like a lightbulb going off or the last piece of the puzzle falling into place. I’ll tell you about that later. Don’t get me wrong—we have a mountain of problems—but for a while I was certain that there would be no saving us. Perhaps, in truth, there isn’t… but I’m feeling more optimistic these days.

Of course, anything non-Michael-Jackson-related isn’t worth mentioning, really. (Did you see how they rolled out that gold-plated coffin and had all the children dance around it? What’s wrong with us? What a creepy display.) Which brings us to our dearest and most ongoing problem: The news has been canceled… permanently. The boob-tube is perma-set to MJTV and on the front page of the New York Times this week there was a story about how porn makers are using smaller-length featurettes for web use. Clever.
But things are happening. America will finally get an accessible healthcare system. Of course, I’m meant to be afraid of healthcare. That’s what they’re telling us… that a public health system would usher in the end of days. Meanwhile we spend more than twice as much per person—than anywhere—on healthcare… and we don’t get better outcomes… and not everyone’s insured.

Thirty-one percent of every dollar spent on healthcare goes to things like marketing and adverts and CEO bonuses at private insurance companies. They preach to you that the competition is the basis of the free market, yet when their insurance companies stand to face competition from us—being able to buy in bulk and pool our money—all of a sudden, competition must be stopped and legislated out of existence.

Oh, do you remember that mess when Nancy Pelosi said the CIA had lied to her… and every right-wing politician and pundit demanded her resignation? Well, that’s turned out to be true. I don’t want to speak too soon but it looks like my cautious optimism was warranted. Good-ol’ Dick Cheney has been linked to the cover up and there’s still more to come. Believe me. The American justice system moves slowly, especially when the entire Justice Department is run by Bush underlings for 7 years. We’re only now starting to see the sweater unravel.

So, exciting times. We have the confirmation of Sonya Sotomayor coming up, who may be the first Latina to sit on the US Supreme Court. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee is hard at work calling her a racist—because she’s said that she sees the world through the eyes of a Hispanic woman and hopes to bring those insights to work with her. Ironically, Jeff Sessions’ own 1986 nomination was killed in the same Senate Judiciary Committee, which was unanimously opposed to his “gross insensitivity” on racial issues. History’s funny like that. A known racist who obviously has a problem with non-white-folk will try to convince you that Sotomayor is racist because she’s not white.

And so I leave you with that to ponder. Wrack your brains, you Kiwis, you Americans out there, you big-brains, you… person who thinks he is smart and loves the sound of his own voice. What do you want to ask an American? Make it good; I’m very busy and important.


About the Author ()

Andrew Mendes is an American studying International Relations and Public Policy at Victoria. He enjoys following politics and reading lots of news.

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