Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stranger in a strange land

So I'm not the kind of alien that Heinlein wrote about in the book that gives this post its name, but I'm the "resident" kind, still a green card holder.

Yeah, yeah, we should probably have done the citizenship thing a long time ago, since we've been here long enough (and two of the kids are US citizens by virtue of being born here), but anybody who has had dealings with the INS will likely want to avoid any more of them, and maybe things have gotten better with a new name and changes, but nothing has really made me feel like I really need that paperwork headache again.

So I'm a stranger in a strange land, and seldom more so than when voting season is upon us.

Most of the rest of the time I can kind of ignore it. We've been in the US for over a decade, and it's definitely "home", and we like living here. But being an alien means that you can't vote, and seeing all the news being about the presidential election (and all the streets here locally littered with signs about the local school bond) tends to remind you about that issue.

But being reminded about not being able to vote is actually the much smaller thing: much more than that, election season reminds you about what an odd place the US is.

Most of the rest of the time, you can forget that you live in the US of A, and you really tend to live much more locally. We've been in Portland, OR, for the last 4+ years, and before that in the Bay Area, and part of being here - as opposed to other parts of the US - is that it's certainly much more like Finland than many other parts of the US.

But then voting season comes and reminds you that all those Americans that are individually sane and normal tend to be collectively crazy and very odd. And that's when you really notice that you're not in Finland any more.

That's when you also notice that the whole US voting system is apparently expressly designed to be polarizing (winner-take-all electoral system etc). To somebody from Finland, that looks like a rather obvious and fundamental design flaw. In Finland, government is quite commonly a quilt-work of different parties, and the "rainbow coalition" of many many parties working together was the norm for a long time. And it seems to result in much more civilized political behaviour.

Of course, in the US there are also much wider social, educational, religious and economic differences between people, and issues range all over the map. Which then means that it's hard to bring up any nuances in politics, since either people won't care about them (not relevant for that group), or they simply won't understand them (what does "foreign policy" matter to somebody who has likely never been outside the US unless you count things like day-trips to Tijuana?).

So you couple a polarizing voting system with a campaign that has to make simplified black-and-white statements, and what do you get?

Ugly, is what you get.

Most of the time I really like living in the US. But voting season sometimes makes you wonder.


Unknown said...

The polarization is a pity in the sense that it precludes discussion about issues that would benefit the USA. e.g. Irrespective to one's views on immigration, it would behoove the US to have an efficient process to implement the chosen policy.

Yet, I don't think it is ugly, per se. I'm a Canadian, and yet I find that the profound nature of 1776 trumps the ugliness wrought by the media. And it does seem to be the media: many of my American friends' philosophies are often diverse _and_ nuanced.

Anonymous said...

Things to consider, since the polarization has systemic causes (or at least aggravators) and you like systemic thinking:

- As a base notion you wouldn't expect 300 million people to agree on anything. Moreover you'd expect their beliefs in aggregate to follow a bell curve for simple statistical reasons. Where and why they don't is an interesting question.

- Hypothesis: Gerrymandering increases the polarization. This is because gerrymandering makes seats safer, and safe seats mean the challengers don't face threats from their opponents on the other side of the political spectrum. Instead they face challenges from within their own party, which means more ideological positions get more strongly represented.

- Hypothesis: The sheer cost of staying in politics makes it very hard to be a political representative without catering to some special interest or other. Making it feasible to run for office without needing to go begging for money from wealthy individuals or small groups would change the nature of the discussion. (This can be done either by lowering the costs of running for office, or making it possible to raise money from much larger groups of people, such as the voters in your represented region. The first often appears as campaign finance reform. The second has an instance in internet fund raising.) If the above notion of a bell curve is correct, requiring a broader array of supporters to finance a race would also be depolarizing, because it would move things into a statistical middle.

Ralph said...

I think the impact of electoral systems on the politics and effectiveness of a country is an important issue. When I was in school they used to teach about the virtues of the "two party system" over a multi-party system or a one party system. They rarely said how the U.S. got a two party system.

Our district based representation and electoral college systems favor two parties over multi-party. Proportional representation by party tends to lead to a multi-party system. I assume from your comments that Finland is proportional representation.

I always thought that proportional would be more polarizing because people wouldn't have to compromise and put forward centrist positions to get elected in a district. Does it seems less polarizing because the compromising and argument takes place in the legislature instead of in public?

Syntropy said...

What better way to rebel against than to polarize?

Unknown said...

Just a note, and I'm sure you probably know this already, but I encountered it recently. If aren't naturalized and you leave the country on your greencard you can only leave for < 1 year without applying for a re-entry permit (usual INS hassle.) If you leave for 2+ years then you lose the card. One reason, other than voting, to go through the hassle of getting naturalized.

Ben DeLillo said...

Unrelated question:
Could you confirm which of the following Linux is a portmanteau of? "Linus' Unix" or "Linus' Minix"

Tonio said...

The problem with democracies is they tend to get stuck the way they were constituted. Of all the democracies I am familiar with, only New Zealand seems to have greatly reformed itself.

Britain and the US, the two oldest representative democracies, have a huge amount of trouble with their "first past the post" voting systems and there's not much that can be done about it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I heard on reddit that you'd started a blog. Went to check it out, and the top post was "Stranger in a Strange Land", which is the title of my blog.

I feel a little closer to the world now. Keep it up! :)

For an interesting take on some of the most extreme divisions in US politics, I recommend "Culture Wars" by James Davison Hunter. It's fascinating, and contains more truth than we'd like to admit (it's the only explanation for the Republican VP choice, for example).


Unknown said...

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that the United States has a VERY vocal minority. That is to say, the people you see up on soapboxes yelling about the world in binary terms are not represenitive of the average American, far from it really. Most Americans are moderate, and simply want a better life. The problem is that those in charge create the culture wars. They focus us on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage as a means to distract us from the issues that really matter, such as health care and the economy.

I too am a resident of Portland, Oregon and am constantly surprised about the "culture wars" and how those social issues are used. In the book "What's the matter with Kansas" the author expands on the thesis that Conservitives use social issues to distract American's from real issues, and that creates the divide we see in this nation.

At least Portland continues to be a beacon of reasonable, progressive politics :)

They call me Brett said...

Linus, your naivete of US political corruption is charming. If you think the INS is bad, start learning about the real power structure of this strange land and be thankful it hasn't yet extended its rotting fist towards Finland.

Brett said...

Come move to Canada. We're becoming more Linux friendly, I swear =)

Who would you vote for if you could?

Aaron Davies said...

Coincidentally, I was just reading an article about how it's the media that creates the perception of polarization this morning. Highly recommended.

copper said...

i agree. and i find myself in the same position- a green card holder who could have gotten his citizenship a long time ago-
here is why:
the lack of political plurality in this country is mind blowing to anyone who comes from a 'democracy'. because they do exist.

a system like this one, in which there is nothing to choose from- is more of a totalitarian system.

a band from the bay area- consolidated- first introduced me to the term 'friendly fascim'

Anonymous said...

hmm, i have family in US they move to US because the bad economy in my country (El Salvador), maybe you dont know this country, but our people move to US to search new employes and

opportunity but is face with strange people that not wish in "your" country.

I hope that is new country for you giving a chance to live better

Clifford said...

Four posts on the first day? Don't get too carried away Linus. I would still like to get kernel updates.

By the way thanks for all your work. I've been inspired by what you have done. And I haven't gone a day in over five years without your kernel. :)

geekguy said...

Then go back to Finland.

Aaron Davies said...

Wow, what a wonderful collection of constructive criticism you've received here. Way to encourage immigration (and blogging) guys!

Seriously, if I had to say something about the commentary on political systems here, I'd say that proportional representation appears to be more subject to catastrophic failure--you get unstable messes like Italy much more often than you do stable cooperative systems like Finland. I'm not sure giving 5% minorities the ability to topple the government at whim is worth the gain in viewpoint diversity.

Arjay said...

Linus, when you wrote, . . . in the US there are also much wider social, educational, religious and economic differences between people . . .

You almost hit the nail on the head as to why there is so much political "polarization" in the US. Had you added "race" you'd have hit the nail square.

A nation is its people, their unique combination of genetic code, their language, and ultimately the culture these things produce when combined. So, when you have a "multi-cultural" society you effectively have a multinational society. This, of course, is a contradiction and a constant source of friction and "polarization." Finally, when you have multiple nations under one government you, by definition, have empire.

The world's rulers, in seeking to expand this empire globally, are waging war against America in an effort to destroy it because they see it as the bulwark to the world's freedom.

A classic tactic in war is to "divide and conquer." Diversity is division. They preach it in order to divide us. They teach women to fear and hate men (feminism), children to disobey their parents (the generation gap), homosexuals to hate normal people (queer theory), and finally, they flood our country with non-Whites, and then teach them to hate Whites.

Contrary to their slogan, diversity is not the source of our strength, it is the means by which we will be destroyed, making way for the one world state.

One final thing, the bad guys in this are not those evil white conservatives "clinging to their guns and religion" who believe that the whole-sale slaughter of a nation's future generations (it's unborn children) and hyper-promiscuity, might be a little destabilizing to that society, it is the men that control the global flow of information and capital and who are promoting these things that are the bad guys.

If you don't know who they are you might want to try looking at the boards of "Big 6" media conglomerates and the two dozen or so global financial companies we evil conservatives were just forced to subsidized because they were making bad loans to people who couldn't pay them back.

Btw, they were making these loans because of a government mandate that was the result of a lawsuit filed in the nineties and argued by none other than their good buddy Barack Obama.

Further, according to opensecrets.org 11 of the 15 top political contributors this election season were Wall Street investment firms and they gave 75% of their donations to the Democrats. Don't believe me . . . look it up.

One final word. Both Barack Obama and John McCain are dyed-in-the-wool globalists who are owned outright by the powers-that-be. Linus can't vote, for those of you who can, do the right thing and vote "None of the above."

Ethan Anderson said...

I am of the opinion that our republican form of government is obsolete and needs to be replaced by a web software based meritocratic omniarchy.

I don't want to vote for people, I want to logically discuss and vote on individual issues.

...my mom says if I made my own government it would be treason and they'd put me to death or something
....which would suck...

Social User Zero said...

AS a fellow "Resident" of the US I could not have said it better myself.

Unknown said...

As a young American I agree with your view of the American political parties. I have a strong dislike for partisan politics. If I had my way we would have no political parties. People should vote for people, not parties. I don't like either Obama or McCain, but I'm stuck with them. And don't get me started on the electoral college. There is literally no reason for me to vote for President. No Democrat has won my state since LBJ. I think a non-partisan popular election is the best way to elect the President. This whole us-versus-them mentality of America politics sickens me.

Anonymous said...

Do you find yourself wishing you could vote come voting season? As you said, the US is now home to your family, and so of course the issues faced in the US affect you as well.

My mother constantly complains about the US government and its policies, but I feel she has no right to complain because she's been a greencard holder for over 30 years now and has decided not to get her citizenship. I am sure INS can be a pain, as many bureaucracies are, but do you ever foresee yourselves getting to the point where you're willing to suffer it to have a voice? Just my two cents :)

Oh, and thanks for the kernel ;)

Jonpaul said...

Hi Linus, I live in Portland too, and I'm voting Obama... like most of the city I would imagine. And Merkley.

charbo187 said...

yes sadly our system of govt. is a huge sham.

Chris Handwerker said...

I'm not a huge secessionist but I do notice that smaller European countries seem to work more efficiently. Originally the United States was supposed to be similar to what the European Union is today, independent states that work together. Perhaps our country is a little to big to manage? Not to say we should ditch the federal government but perhaps more decisions should be put on individual states?

Robert said...

Linus if you're going to make a post about the presidential election you should endorse a candidate

Unknown said...

Yes, I have to agree, this place gets *very* strange every 4 years, especially when there's no incumbent President running for reelection. For all of its warts and problems, I personally haven't found a better place to live, so I guess I've learned to accept it though I don't always like it. Still, I'd give my life to defend this great nation because I still believe that its diversity is its greatest strength.

Speaking of elections, if you could run for President, I'd vote for you in a heart beat. Any person that is capable of making several hundred kernel hacking geniuses work together in a collaborative effort to create something so eloquent and powerful as the Linux kernel would get my vote! If you can accomplish that, you could surely get our Congress to work together! :P

I also have to say, thank you for one of the greatest gifts to computers since silicon, I use it every day and am very appreciative of all of your hard work! :)

blog owner said...

Welcome to the world of blogging, Linus!

And by the way--THANKS for Linux; I've used it since its first release. I started computing on Tandy Xenix and then SCO back in the mid-'80s, and thought it was so cool that a free version/clone/whatever was available when I first heard about Linux. I haven't looked back since! :)

zrr said...

As a European, living in Switzerland, I love to travel to the US specially and only for the election! Being a SuperPower has certain obligations.

Anonymous said...

tonio: Interestingly, New Zealand doesn't have a formal constitution, more a collection of documents, which is why it's been relatively easy to change. The UK is similar, and if you look back a few hundred years it's actually changed a fair bit as well - gradually going from absolute monarch to representative democracy. I don't see why they couldn't easily implement something other than FPP. The US due to its decentralisation could also change voting methods, as they're determined by each state.

रवि रतलामी said...

Ah, and in India, it loks like 24X7 voting time all the year. Now you can imagine how things were odd here!

Unknown said...

I have both Finnish friends living in USA and American friends. I follow your 'local' media and I'm pretty convinced this is a fact that separates a Finn from Americans;
American individuals are slightly more interested about the fact if they have WON something or not, instead of learning if the result of this something has served the majority?

This may have established the polarized system that is in use atm.

By the way I'm very thankful of your participation in "valinnan vapaus". Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

And Linus to you -- using name which is already taken brings a bad karma to you. Given you are who you are, I don't think this will just your small private project for long time.

Unknown said...

It it not only in the US that election is kind of ugly. I covered the same issue when I visited Australia the fall of 2007 where there at the time was an ongoing presidential election.

As I am a Norwegian, I wrote it in norwegian...but my e-mail to the two different parties is in english.


Maybe it's a scandinavian thing...but I see the simmilar flaws as you do Linus.

- Torger Åge Sinnes

Anonymous said...

Aaron Davies: "I'd say that proportional representation appears to be more subject to catastrophic failure--you get unstable messes like Italy much more often than you do stable cooperative systems like Finland."

The Finnish parliamentary and local elections are not "straight proportional", but use the d'Hondt system. It favours large parties and makes it very difficult for independent candidates to get elected. The votes are basically counted towards the sum total of the party, the seats are divided in proportion to the votes for each party and then the seats in each party's allotment are filled with candidates in the order of the number of votes received. This means that a very popular candidate in a small district can get a whole bunch of seats for the party, and the seats may get filled with people who didn't get very many votes. There can be candidates in other parties that got more votes but were not elected. Sometimes the difference can be huge, say losing with three times the number of votes than someone who got elected.

I don't know about Italy, but certainly in Finland it is practically impossible for a 5% minority to overthrow the government (or get pretty much anything else done). (Finland also has a very strong consensus culture, but that's another story.)

gnumber9 said...

I've never had the opportunity to leave the country. The closest I have come was ironically, a day trip to Tijuana when I used to live out West. San Clemente was as far south as time allowed. The ghost of Nixon did not appear.

The US political system is all I've ever known. The ugliest part of it, is character assassination which makes me uncomfortable. One day hopefully, I'll travel abroad to see how other systems work and can weigh the practical against the ideal. Local elections seem to have more of an impact on me than national, but this election is different.

Unknown said...

In an interview yesterday, Linus said that he won't reply to comments and will turn them off if they get on his nerves.

Even the cesspit of social bookmarking people call Digg has the interview. You can't miss it.

I think if this blog is to continue, comments will be an invaluable part of it. Much like a software company, I think a blog's most important asset is the people within the community. Therefore, it would be a pity if we lost the blog altogether or Linus turned off the comment feature, thus polarizing the tone of his posts - much like the flawed US political system.

My suggestion is that Linus give up the Blogger service, get a CMS on a host and activate a rating system on comments, much like reddit. Let the community do the moderating for you. I am sure that there are boatloads of people who can set up and customize even the most complicated drupal configuration within hours if asked by Linus.

I might actually put a person's blog in my feed reader among the wasteland of useless blogs that come a dime a dozen. Please don't ruin it.

king of death said...

As a chinese, I've never voted.
So I can't understand the American's voting, it's interesting ...

Unknown said...

Hi Linus, normally I detest blogs, but I ma very interested to see what you have to say, looks pretty interesting so far! Hope you keep it up.

Thanks for all your work on the kernel! I'd still be cursin Bill gates without it.

David said...

i love linux!!i from china

Odair Trujillo said...

Hey, post some photos.

Amri Shodiq said...

Just visiting your blog, bro. I love you. I use Linux. I really do and I love it. Please visit my website at http://www.biofirbiofir.net.


fabsilva said...

thanks for linux!!!!!!!!!!!!

sakjur said...

USA är ju lite speciellt enligt många :D Inte så likt våra hemländer kan man ju säga. Har släkt där. Ville bara säga: Just For Fun är UNDERBAR läsning.

// SakJur

US is a bit special acording to many people :D it's not that much alike Sweden and Finland, I suppose. I've got relatives in the US. And one more thing: Just For Fun is GREAT reading!

Gonzamazo said...

hello torvals

Agent Orange! said...

i'm newest ubuntu user..it's best man!!! cool..gud luck whateva u do..

PusRob said...

Hei Linus!
On hyvä lukea sinun blog. Sinun toinen "post" Intel SSDistä on kiva, ja se on opettava. Kiitos.
Menetkö usein Suomeen, vai harvoin vain?
Odotan tulevasi "post":si.

Oh my... I hope there aren't much errors... I'm just learning finnish, thus my finnish skills are "huonosti vielä". Luckily, the finnish and hungarian grammars are not so different, so that part at least is easier for me to learn. How to say in finnish the word "post"? I mean when you mean something like a post on a forum, or a blog entry? I just couldn't figure it out...

Many thanks for the idea and of course for the creation of the thing called Freax!

Mark Grennan said...

Don't feel like your alone. I'm 52 and lived her all my life. I can vote and will but I'm not sure the candidates are really from this planet. I think you and I live here and they are the "Strangers" in our land.

If you could vote, who would you vote for? I'm voting for the Irish guy. O'boma :-)

Pateando Piedras said...

it's like walkin'g over the sea. Like Talamo pain. Looking around and no able to do something

Kicking Stones

kozmcrae said...

We're as close to a one party system as a two party system can get and still be considered two party. You make a lot of sense Linus. You should be careful though or you might find yourself Governor of Oregon some day.

Brad Buckmaster said...

I like your post and your viewpoint. I live near Porland and work in Beaverton; I have lived here all my life and election season in my family is hilarious as family discussions about politcs by (relatively) normal adults can at times devolve into shouting matches where in the end everyone agrees to disagree...

I stll love it here though, and I am very grateful for the work you do.


Sridhar Iyer said...

I am in the same boat as you.. I feel that the most eloquent guy becomes the president here :)

MIM said...

Just thank God you don`t have to live in Brasil.
Imagine to live in a joke, where the greeks, so far called creators of democracy would be in tears...

paulm said...

While not "systemic" per se the thing that strikes me as odd about America is the existence of political families. Eg Clintons, Bushes, Kennedys.

It seems odd to me that people from a nation that freed itself from hereditary rulers choose to value other dynasties so strongly.

jdoepp said...

Thank you Linus, for giving a very level-headed commentary on the US elections. I am also a stranger in a strange land (wherever I am in the world - I'm a US and UK citizen, but have lived most of my life outside those two countries), and agree with you absolutely.

I also appreciate it that you did not endorse a candidate. Such an endorsement would be polarizing in itself. "Linus is the father of Linux, Linus endorses xy candidate, so Linux must be for people of xy party." Which, of course is ridiculous. Democrats, Republicans, independents and members of any party can all be Linux fans, believe it or not!

Anonymous said...

I´ll like to think that voting season it a time to remind tha I hava my own land... and that`s far away....

PD: soory if i make mistakes writing, this is not my language

Phoenix said...

Welcome friend.


Sonali said...

I never did understand the US way of doing things - basically having to choose between 2 candidates/parties. Though I have to say that during the primary elections, Americans do get the chance to vote for a specific candidate.
Sounds like Finnish political system is like the Indian system. In India also, there are a ton of political part. Depending on the outcome of elections and sometimes before the voting starts, the parties form coalitions and are usually led by the strongest party. But come decision-making time, this is a little scary because now the political party in-charge needs to appease all the supporting coalition members. IMHO this sometimes leads to corruption.
Well, there really isn't really a perfect political system for any country!

Anonymous said...

You do not have to live in Brazil (as the wait), but could see the "5th Conference Latinoware" along with Jon "Maddog" Hall, the event will happen on 10/30 in Foz do Iguacu, is the most beautiful natural place in the world. Come take a trip to Brazil, is invited.k

Marco Ramiro Hernandez said...

Que se le dice a alguien a quien admiras, sin sonar un lamebotas?

No lo se.. pero me da gusto saber que tienen un blog

Anonymous said...


US culture goes through cycles of polarization and relative calm. But the system of government stays the same - so I don't think the polarization is caused by the political system.

You should read Strauss and Howe if you want some insight into American culture.

More information:


Robb Bossley said...

Linus, you put it brilliantly! My wife is from Taiwan and I would whole-heartedly agree with your assessment.

By the way, welcome to the US - though I realize you've been here quite a while. I, for one, am happy you decided to stop by.

We originally struggled with my wife getting her citizenship, but renewing a green card is just as much of a pain, so we finally did it when the green card was ready to expire.

dguaraglia said...

((Just for the record, I use Windows most of the time because my work requires me to (all my computers double boot though. You know, the whole "White collar worker by day, super hero by night" thing).))

Anyway, I'm in quite probably the exact opposite point of view. I'm an American living abroad. In fact, I've lived abroad since I was 8 months or so, so I can't recollect a time where I lived in the US, and I consider myself an American "with an huge grain of salt".

So, come voting season I really understand the points you make. I've seen many forms of government and making politics, most of them corrupt, and not much better than the bi-partisan way. For example, quilt-work governments down here in South America are driven by personal interests and are rather corrupt. Kind of tit-for-tat politics.

I don't know what works better. I don't know if anything *does* work better at all.

I really love the blog. I think it's a great way of giving that horrible horrible monster capable of saying things like "I'm a bastard. I have absolutely no clue why people can ever think otherwise." a face.

Oh, and ignore the (prone to be) "if you don't like America move to your country" BS. Some people just can't take any kind of criticism.

Aryeh Gregor said...

You know "stranger in a strange land" is a quotation from the Bible, right, not original to Heinlein? :) Exodus 2:22, KJV translation specifically.

As far as polarization goes, I found the article "Who is More Liberal, Senator Obama or Senator Clinton?" and the pages linked from it a really interesting read. The figure labeled "110th (2007) Congress" is depressing: political affiliations in the House and Senate cluster tightly around party boundaries, with one sharp spike for the Democrats and one for the Republicans and nothing in between. A more representative system would surely have a single smooth bell curve, with most politicians moderate. Maybe two peaks due to polarization of the electorate, but nowhere near that sharp.

Unfortunately, getting a constitutional amendment to mandate proportional representation for Congress and a non-plurality-based election method for the president (IRV, Condorcet, etc.) is going to happen approximately never. I can hope, though.

Sam Jasper said...

Bravo Linus. It's refreshing to see another take on all this. Please ignore the "go back to Finland" comment and know that there are many of us citizens who feel that's it's pretty strange here during voting season too.

Fozzynen said...

I completely agree. Portland/Beaverton + surrounding area is much more like Finland than anything I've seen elsewhere in the US. Now that I finally got my sauna, I don't miss "home" that much anymore.

Marcos FRM said...

Linus for President

Mr. Salad said...

I don't think it's fair that you pay taxes and don't get to vote. Man up and turn in your green card for a Social Security card. You'll sleep better.

Oh and BTW, welcome to the U.S., now get back to work. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Linus!

It's important to realize that America is running Democracy 1.0. It was the world's first release of Democracy, and though it's been patched a lot, there are still a lot of fundamental design flaws.

Places like Finland and Canada are running Democracy 2.0 or later.

Democracy 1.0 is not bad for a 200+ year-old design, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kernel, have followed it since 1991.

I thought that French did democracy before US, but after Athens. But I might be wrong here.

Propotional election democracy usally don't have personal election (but in Sweden you can change order in parties list of candidates by vote on one candidate further down in the list). To get into parlament, the party has to pass a limit (3% in Sweden). And to get to rule, you usally need to coöperate with other parties. Which get more opinions into government, which is a good thing.

Unknown said...


Just wanted to say that the US is like this partially because it has gravitated towards this direction.

Make no mistake, I'm sure some screwing around with the system at the top early on made things the way they are now in the US with the 2 party system, but you have to consider just how much the people played a role in it did, or didn't do.

Either way, it will eventually sort itself out. People are people nonetheless. And while we might not have a major representation of the "green party" or the "libertarian party", eventually good people will find their way into the major parties.

Fat chance though...

tzangerl said...

Well, the proportional system doesn't always work this well... in Finland, it might work, because Nordic people tend to be very compromise-oriented and reasonable. At least we in Central Europe perceive them as such.

Here in Austria (the country with the mountains where Schwarzenegger is from, NOT AUSTRALIA), however, the proportional system has lead to the situation that there are two parties that describe themselves as "centrist" (roughly conservatives and social democrats), one and a half party at the extreme right (though probably not as bad as depicted abroad) and a Green party.

None of the "centrist" parties has a majority which would allow it to pass legislation. So they have to form a coalition. Nobody wants to cooperate with the extreme right factions and the share of the Greens is usually too small to permit a Social-Democrat/Green coalition.

Hence, there always has to be a "big" coalition of the two centrist parties. Since actually they can't really stand each other (like Democrats and Republicans in the US) but are always forced to work together, much of the legislation consists of bad compromises, with a lot of exceptions negotiated by each party to please their respective voters.

In Austria many people think that a majority electoral system like in the US would serve the country in a better way, because each one of the two centrist parties would then be able to really implement their ideas without constantly having to make bad compromises.

Unknown said...

Well I don't live in the USA but I see the election stuff going on. I think I agree with Linus, it all gets pretty crazy at election time. I too long for a more simple method of government.

Alex said...

the world all over the world is odd, we're all crazy, hahahahaha... I'm latinamerican and policy here is very sad and very strange... it's made from rich people to rich people

goodDAY said...

I love a linux.

thx for ur work.
in korea.

Anonymous said...

Please do consider doing the "citizenship thing". The USA can use all the discerning, educated, thoughtful voters it can get. Voting is a nice complement to political blogging ;>

tdwebste said...

Don't waste your time in Politics met for the average TV watching suburban American(Canadian).

I don't know perhaps watching too much TV rots the brain. You might notice in the world of Politics for TV, facts are establish on how often something is repeated.


It would be kind of like deciding to make 1 = 1,2,3,4 and 5 = 5,6,7,8,9
Now repeat this until you believe it. It is not important that 5 <>6. IT MUST be true.

Try to inore the craziness, too bad crazy none thinking can create an unworldly mess you know as American Politics.

Nailson Martins said...

In USA the political system looks really crazy, but in Brazil, with the most advanced election system RUNNING LINUX!!! ;-) and with direct election, we don`t have any real opnion. here all politicians are corrupt(i don`t know if there`s a serious one). we don`t have facultative election... it sucks... we pay a lot of taxes, about 38% of our GDP is just taxes! and we have a poor-rotten education system... our political system sucks. and i`m a Brazilian. i`ve to live with that.

JaY said...

I think I envy the outsider during the voting seasons.

People do tend to go way off into left field on tangents that aren't about the country but about the other man/woman...

Causes a lot of division.

At least we come together when there is a problem or a disaster.

At least there is hope in there for the crazy Americans.

neiMac said...

I really hate the way the federal government is being run, allot of the polarization comes from issues like gun control and abortion that really have no place in the federal government. States can tackle these issues allot more effectively and cause less division nationally, you mix this with the lobbyists from unions, big companies and you get your polarization. And the reason there is only two parties in the USA is because people are not smart enough to vote for a third party when they have that option because they think it wont make a difference. We really do need to make big changes at the federal level I just don't see it happening.

Oh by the way I love what your doing Linus great work.

MIM said...

by the way...
here`s a good movir for the topic

Zeitgeist: Addendum

wish I was a linus to overthrown this too...

mikem said...

The left has so dumbed down political discourse in this country that any mention of one's record is automatically labeled "a vicious personal attack from the right." In this election year "racist" is the number one buzzword. If you don't support the Messiah you're a racist. No matter if the reason is that he's a Marxist.

Yogarine said...

I myself am also a "Stranger in a strange land"... Being a Dutch guy living in Brazil for almost 5 years.
The mayor elections have just finished here, and I can tell you it's as crazy as in the US, so I kinda know what you're going through...
Particulary during voting seazon I always feel more of a stranger then usually.

Fortunatly, in all other aspects, Brazil is a lot less crazy than The States. And the voting here is much much better organised. (Here they only use electronic voting machines, running Linux. ;-) (Now don't get any strange ideas...)

Linus, why don't you come live here in Brazil? ;-)

El Capitan said...

I'll never understand why someone from a nice European country would want to move to the USA.

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