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Steevo

Well Jonathan what has worked is based on values I just take that for granted. Frankly, all policy regardless if it has been effective or not is based on law intrinsic to values/standards intended to set limits of behavior whether the government's or the individual's and at least, proclaimed for the good. With the point on taxes again to use as an example, its joe-public's money and he/she should have primary right where true freedom: liberty and justice is concerned. Government here has become so big, self-serving and arbitrary with respect to our Constitution moving well beyond its intent even if applied to present day concerns. Conservatives believe it is wrong to _assume the right_ policy, in spite of historical evidence to the contrary, taking more from our pockets to solve problems. Liberals simply believe they have the moral right regardless of the intent of the Constitution or what conservatives can believe is self-evident, handing over more control to on high and giving less freedom of right and power to the individual. They know better, its their disposition, and take what is fundamentally not theirs. Conservative moral principle when combined with policy usually, works for the better as self-interest and individual right governing one's own possessions ends up being managed better than the impersonal bureaucratic machine at state and national capitals, receiving their pay for taking ours. Now there can be difference between Brit and American libertarians, I consider myself kinda libertarian/conservative, but the premise of the individual governing his/her own life as opposed to governmental control in the States has a lot in common between 'conservatives' and 'libertarians'. Not liberals, here.

When you are asking questions and state examples its easy to get the impression and conclude you stand for or don't stand for views and policies leading me to formulate a basis for my interpretation. I would suggest when you make a case for interpretation and judgment, you state unambiguously up front what you Jonathan believe in as a Brit, and why. And also if you will, state why Americans, their beliefs and policies enacted, are so important to you personally.

Respect goes a long way with such discussion. Like I said, there is no real comparison when it concerns Americans going out of their way and making it a point to personally involve themselves in Britain's internal policies, presuming to know from media what you are truly about, and then tell you who should be elected and how your country should be run. A lot of negative feelings would die down if Britains could understand that regardless of your differences of point of view you don't come across the ocean into our back yard and tell us how we should get it in order. You do have quite a mess yourselves and it seems to me telling Americans how to do it is an arrogance taken for granted. I've said this before and its been taken very personal with some Brits but I do believe with many its become a diversion most likely for self-esteem. Its just respect, simple respect and all the great depth of what being human can mean.

It seems to me you may not be able to understand, really, how we understand and see matters. There's not much set in stone but we just seem to have a pretty good idea. I could be wrong here and I have no intention on making it an issue but it seems to me we understand ourselves better than you folks understand yourselves but this could well be my non-Brit bias. I don't really know what a Tory means and I don't know if Tories really know either, there's a lot of significant differences. I have a loose-knit idea for my sense of judgment and all I can really say is I prefer a Tory in office. And it seems to me Brit use of the word conservative can be as different as day and night. But personally, I don't really care much and that's not meant as an insult. I don't expect purity of thought, agreement, understanding... I just hope you folks can build a stronger, more united country based on values intrinsic to a democracy with genuine liberty. Its not my place to tell you how, it is yours to make or break.

Londoner

Steevo

There are three main reasons why we British tend to have views (however poorly informed we may be on some of the issues, particularly the domestic ones) of who should be your President:

1. Because of the huge power of the US in the world both militarily and economically, the policies pursued by whoever is your President affect us more than those of any other foreign country by a factor of 10. In some ways they affect our fate even more than our own Government's policies. Therefore, foreigners having views on your Presidential candidates goes with the territory of the US being such a powerful country. it also goes with the way you tend to use that power, i.e. not modestly. I am thinking here as much of things like trade, attempted and actual extraterritorial reach of US law etc. I am not necessarily blaming the US for making its power felt, often we Brits are cheering you on when you do so, but you cannot exercise that power and then feign surprise when foreigners are concerned who might wield it.

2. We Brits have almost always been your allies, sometimes when much of our population hasn't agreed with what America is doing. Most of us, at least those of us who were politically sentient before 1989, are happy with this instinctive position, even if we might not like some particular policies, because we think you are the good guys. We didn't just support you against the Soviets because our economy was closer, or we speak (roughly) the same language - we did so because we believed that the values you stand for were morally in the right (not just a bit less bad than the Soviets, but positively right and shared by us). If we are to remain instinctive allies, rather than just pragmatic fair weather ones, we still need to believe that you stand on the moral high ground and, if we are such good friends that we risk good relations with our western European allies through supporting you on things like Iraq, we need to be able to be a candid friend not a silent one when there are things that disturb us. I don't particularly want to take sides here on "waterboarding" but it is for these reasons that we cannot regard what has been going on on such matters as irrelevant to us (even leaving aside that we are/were fighting alongside you when you captured these people) Our views should also not be regarded as irrelevent to a thoughtful American (unless that American places no value on our alliance). I am not saying our views on such matters should determine your views, but you should know that such issues will colour our views of America on a lot more than the narrow point at issue. That Senator McCain appears to care a bit more about international opinion on such matters, whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular issue, is therefore, from our perspective, something in his favour.

3. Not just because of 1. but also because we use (or misuse in our different ways!) the same language, we hear a lot more in our mainstream media about your domestic politics than we do about any other country's (more even than about France or Germany). For instance tonight on the main 20 minute TV news bulletin on the BBC, about a third of it was about your latest primaries (mostly, but not exclusively about the Democrat side - it's the bigger story here). I do not believe that a third of any news bulletin in the US would ever be about one little twist in an election campaign in another country. Now - a little knowledge does not necessarily make for total insight - but believe me most of us know a lot more about your political personalities than you are likely to know about ours. And if people know a bit, they will have views. That is human nature.

4. Lots of us have personal links with your country, which mean that we probably talk to American more than we talk to nationals of any other foreign country. I have American Directors on the Board of my company and talk to them often about what is going on there; my father in law is an American citizen; I have two lots of cousins I am in contact with there. I am not particularly unusual in having these connections and I am not claiming that they give me any special insight in themselves but they are examples of the many different means by which we have tenticles telling us what is happening. For instance I know from personal contact, not reading the papers, how dire the housing market is in a particular part of California.

4. Finally, so far as this forum is concerned, it's not the same me addressing strangers on here as it would be me going up to a stranger in a bar in San Francisco and telling them, without being asked, why I would prefer X to Y as your President. But if I was asked, and I had a view, I would share it with them from my prespective. Of course Americans are going to know more about it than us, and of course who you vote in is your choice not ours. But by coming on here, Steevo, you are like the man in a bar who asks a foreigner what he thinks, you expose yourself to foreigners' views of what is going on in your country. If that offends you, you shouldn't be coming here. But I hope you still do, as I have found your views on Sen McCain enlightening even if, as you suspected, I do not react negatively to many of his positions that you outlined.

Wow - and I starting this post thinking it would be a short one!

Steevo

Thanks for your time Londoner. I'm really getting kinda tired of it, not meaning this personally with you. I think you folks have to concern yourselves with your own lives and get a much better grip on solving immense problems of your own doing... and have nothing to do with us. We have immense problems too and your words really don't help just as I'm sure ours won't help you. And I think you need to seriously consider a very fundamental understanding of human nature: putting yourselves in another's shoes. Regardless of how much you feel we affect you or your BBC know they can appeal to a large audience, we are still our own people and separate in country, experience and even many beliefs from you. I am inclined to conclude, when it comes to politics or any issue creating the temptation for telling us how wrong we are or simply how to do it better, the discussion is fruitless from this side of the ocean because unlike in the past, a respect for reserve can no longer be counted on as a part of your nation's character. If there's a change in subject matter and attitude here I may participate otherwise, its best for me to spend my time, here :)

Londoner

Steevo

I was precisely trying to get across to you how it feels in our shoes, but obviously I have largely failed. No-one denies that you "are still (y)our own people and separate in country, experience and even many beliefs". I get the feeling that the "even many beliefs" bit has widened since the end of the Cold War, and that saddens me.

I agree that we should "regard this correspondence as closed".

Malcolm Dunn

Well put Londoner. You explained my position too, with far more patience and far more articulately than I could. I normally take little interest in foreign elections but the USA is different.I was so grateful when the Americans elected Ronald Reagan,the cold war could never have been won without him. Equally I was very sorry when they elected a man like Clinton and totally mystified when Bush won in 2004.Still I suspect many Americans who have some knowledge of our country would be pretty suprised that a party led by Blair was elected 3 times too!

ian

Mc Cain has missed his opportunity to become President. He would have been a fine choice 10 years ago.

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