I don’t know what you’re doing today, but I’m doing something special. I try to never let political issues or opinions feature on this blog, but today I’m breaking my own rule. I’ll excessively show you my political preference and take you to a ballot wonderland. Remember those annoying people that take a photo of their ballot? Take a quick look:
The picture is a bit shaken, because I thought it might be illegal to take a picture. That wasn’t the biggest fear, but I was seriously afraid people would know I’d put it on Twitter (which I did, but I would be ashamed if anyone found out).
That’s the Dutch ballot. Whatever you thought it was, please tell me in the comments. I’ll try and explain why it looks like a Norwegian crossword puzzle. We have about twelve political parties, who fill up the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. By picking a name, you vote for the party that person is with, and if that person would get enough votes on his own, he might actually jump a few places.
This is the result of last September’s elections. Those two parties with 41 and 39 seats are respectively the right-wing party and a moderate left-wing party, who are actually working together now. Normally, parties along the right-left spectrum might try to form a coalition (76 seats at least), but these last elections turned out to be pretty polarizing. If you are ever eligible to vote in the Netherlands, I recommend ChristenUnie. Not only will you be rooting for the underdog, you’d also be voting for the only party that mixes christian values with common sense and pragmatism (not to be confused with trading values FOR pragmatism).
So, are you jealous of our system?
Don’t worry, the title was mostly just to catch your attention (because politics is so sexy). With the current Republican debates, caucuses and I know what, I believe it is time for me to tell you how American politics are viewed outside of the US. First of all, we’re all watching. People I know (granted, all in college) can name at least the two most important runners for the Republican nomination and most of them can voice well-founded opinions about them. I don’t know why, but American politics may be the sexiest in the world. First of all, they might be the most important in today’s world. Also, they’re being well-covered. But most importantly: it’s fantastic entertainment. The slip ups are ever-present and the two-party system seems to force people into fighting over lies such as Dutch people being killed in nursing homes.
'In Holland, they even euthanize aborted babies. True story.'
So, all these things together make for great fun following the American political news. It’s better than the Dutch news, which is either boring or annoying. Wait, maybe that’s not true. Maybe it’s the impact American politics have, paired with more interesting people. Whatever it is, I cannot wait for October and November when Mitt Romney will somehow have to combine Newt Gingrich’s charisma, Ron Paul’s elderly wisdom and Santorum’s conservative views with his own unique style. Yes, I’m looking forward to it. So much.
One of the basic rules of networking is to avoid four heavy topics: sex, money, religion and politics. For Americans, sex is an easy topic to avoid. Politics on the other hand are impossible to avoid.
The country breathes politics. Driving around for ten minutes, you will see bumper stickers that confirm every stereotype there is about Americans (probably also because loud, annoying, biased and hard-headed people like bumper stickers the most). When I was in California, I saw a lady walking around in a shirt that said: ‘Slaves had their healthcare taken care of too’. Although I wondered why she was proud of a country that takes better care of its slaves than its poor, I didn’t ask. Also, I know I am biased, no need to point that one out.
Besides the bumper sticker madness, there was room for hand fans saying ‘Republicans are cool’, giant billboards and forcing opinions when in normal conversations. I didn’t mind any of those. I’m just not used to it. Even in my class, I don’t know about most peoples voting preferences, but in Missouri I could sometimes find out in about two minutes. Of course, you don’t have to chose from over ten different parties, so that does make it easier to define someone’s party. It’s a subject that will present itself anywhere you go. As I’m planning to come over in the 2012 summer, I have one thing to tell you: bring it on for 2012. Entertain me.