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10 Comments

  • Thanks, Orin – a great introduction to the mysteries of U.S. politics. Your last section (on Europe) helps to explain something that puzzled me the other day. When one of the Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich, ran an ad criticizing the front-runner Mitt Romney, one of the charges against Romney was that ‘just like John Kerry, he speaks French!’ Apparently, knowing a foreign language is almost tantamount to treason. I’d guess that in most countries, this would be seen as a point in the candidate’s favour. At any rate, we’d all be out of a job if people took that view about learning English.

  • Thanks Michael. The “he speaks French” bit was picked up by some media commentators as a particularly embarrassing snapshot of American culture. I think it stems from two things: the Republicans trying to win the very lowest end of the electorate, who are suspicious of anything they don’t know themselves, and the fact that it is now possible to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigning anonymously (because of the new “Superpacs”).

  • Let’s not forget a new coinage, “job creator.” All the multi-millionaires the GOP candidates want to shield from paying any more taxes are all of a sudden “job creators.” This, despite the fact that loads of jobs were created under Clinton when the 1 percent were taxed at a higher rate…..

  • Thanks, Phil. Yeah, that one has to be right out of Karl Rove’s playbook; it’s a pity the media doesn’t analyze it more critically. Perhaps, however, the 1%ers can hire more domestics with their tax savings, and this will create jobs, no?

  • “Liberal” in American economic/political discourse does NOT mean “demanding too much freedom”; it’s actually used as a synonym for “social-democratic/statist”. The European term ‘neoliberal economics’ is translated into American as “conservative economics.”

  • A very interesting post!We have discussed it with my students together with my new reading lessons on Aleph by Paulo Coelho.Thank you!

  • Thanks , Orin. This is extremely interesting to rouse my students’ interest in the US presidential elections. I think my American colleague Zoe , who was just about to deal with this very topic in our top class (last year high school), will make the most of your brilliant article.
    To us Italians, American politics represents a riddle because of its caucuses and other such procedures.
    So, thanks again.
    Elena

  • Thanks for your comment, Elena. US politics is often a riddle even for us Americans! It certainly is interesting this election, and I think it will become more so as the year goes on.

  • One comment — “Liberalism” also has other connotations, in my experience — it often is taken as indicating “questionable morals” from a conservative Christian point of view. In growing up in such an environment, “liberalism” was like a 4-letter word, e.g. “really bad” ;-).

    Interesting article – thanks! (I’m US-American living abroad, and it’s interesting to get this perspective!)