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-   -   Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless? (https://www.englishforum.ch/international-affairs-politics/115743-americans-foreigners-who-want-talk-politics-boring-annoying-harmless.html)

Guest 05.06.2011 12:35

Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
This is a genuine question that has sprung out of another thread.

The United States has a pretty big political footprint compared to most other nations in the world, and almost everyone has something to say about it, wherever he comes from.

As a US citizen, do you find yourself constantly being invited to talk about politics when you'd much rather enjoy a quiet beer and talk about cooking? How do you react when you are approached by foreigners who wish to discuss US foreign policy with you? Are you grateful for their interest? Do you find them amusing? Do you find them irritating? How often does this happen to you?

Citizens of other parts of the world about which foreigners like to express their opinions are also invited to contribute (although I'd be grateful if the poll was reserved for Americans). I'm sure our Northern Irish, Icelandic and Israeli members have plenty of experiences to share.

Anyway, about that George Bush...

chiguy 05.06.2011 12:51

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I suppose I could choose any of your options at different times. If the "foreigner" (isn't everyone but the Swiss foreigners here?) is open-minded and truly interested in an exchange of ideas, then it can be a great opportunity for a good conversation. If their purpose is merely to antagonize and slam US policy without offering any intelligent support for their positions or alternatives to the policy, then it's a bit of a waste of time, isn't it? The main problem I find is that all too often the "foreigner" assumes all Americans support all the current American policies even though they don't hold the same support for their own country's policies.

Guest 05.06.2011 12:55

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiguy (Post 1218564)
the "foreigner"

For the purposes of this discussion, "foreigner" means someone who is not a citizen of the United States of America.

I should, of course, have written "foreigners and Englishmen", but there is a character limit to the thread title.

MathNut 05.06.2011 12:56

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Abstractly, I think it's nice of people to take an interest. I'd rather they could satisfy that interest some way besides buttonholing me about it though.

Actually I am more patient with foreigners who do it than I am with fellow Americans (who really should know better.) It's a cultural thing, maybe politics is not considered such a personal subject in their countries.

But yes, it's mildly annoying in either case. Or extremely annoying, depending on their persistence. I won't be rude (or only as a last resort :D) but I will make polite noncommittal noises until they give up or until I see a chance to escape.

Happens to me once or twice a month, I would say. Less since moving out of Zurich.

st2lemans 05.06.2011 12:59

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I USED to be a US citizen, but expatriated two years ago, so now I'm a foreigner, but I was both for 12 years.

As my kids have three passports, they are only 1/3 US, and thus foreigners?

Anyway, I discuss US politics normally only with people with some connection to the US (expats, people married to expats, Swiss who have lived in the US, etc.)

Likewise, I discuss Swiss politics normally only with those with some connection to CH, though that includes Italian frontaliers, other Europeans I know well, etc.

Tom

Bookworm 05.06.2011 13:02

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
When I first arrive, a bit over 10 years ago, I often had quite aggressive comments about the USA. Often it went:

"Are you American?"
"Yes"
"You don't know about this because your news doesn't report it, but American is ... (BLA BLA BLA) ..."

... and the whole of my country was explained to me. Most often A) they had never visited B) they had only been to NYC or C) they had seem Hollywood films and were therefore experts.

I'd rather not discuss politics ...:msncrazy:

Capacitrix 05.06.2011 13:04

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
We moved here just before Bush II got elected. My response to questions about why he was chosen, etc., is basically summed up here.

I had a co-worker (European, but not Swiss) who sent out an email to all his American friends congratulating us on choosing better when Obama got elected. The mail got deleted without response. I didn't follow politics when I was there and still don't. I'd rather talk about substitutions for brown sugar graham crackers. Or favorite hikes, or restaurant recommendations for Paris, London, Milan, etc.

We moved here for my husband's job, nothing else. We stay here for the same reason and because we like it here.

Corbets 05.06.2011 13:05

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bookworm (Post 1218578)
When I first arrive, a bit over 10 years ago, I often had quite aggressive comments about the USA. Often it went:

"Are you American?"
"Yes"
"You don't know about this because your news doesn't report it, but American is ... (BLA BLA BLA) ..."

... and the whole of my country was explained to me. Most often A) they had never visited B) they had only been to NYC or C) they had seem Hollywood films and were therefore experts.

I'd rather not discuss politics ...:msncrazy:

Yeah, that. Add in a bit of "well, you're American so you don't know how to talk politics anyways." Then I usually go from "baiting" above to "smackdown."

If I wanted to talk about American politics, though, I'd live in America...

phdoofus 05.06.2011 13:16

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I don't mind talking policy if I'm talking with someone who has educated themselves about an issue (from something other than emails and blogs) and has something constructive to add. I do mind senseless knee-jerk responses (America is evil, America can do no wrong) be they 'foreigners' or 'natural born citizens'. Of course, it's pretty easy to ignore the latter by not responding. Nothing upsets a troll more than not getting the response that they wanted. That said I find political discussions are rather rare. Probably because I don't hang out in pubs. Of course, I am surrounded by eastern Europeans who do seem to have 'unique' sources of information about things American. :D

phdoofus 05.06.2011 13:20

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Corbets (Post 1218585)
Yeah, that. Add in a bit of "well, you're American so you don't know how to talk politics anyways." Then I usually go from "baiting" above to "smackdown."

My favorite response, generally guaranteed to get a good reaction, "Yeah, I guess I'd feel the same if I lived in a third world country." At that point, I'm usually not interested in hearing what they had for breakfast let alone any other kind of opinion.

st2lemans 05.06.2011 13:30

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Personally, I like "why should I care about US politics, I'm Swiss now!"

Tom

Pancakes 05.06.2011 13:31

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I'm actually a bit interested in learning about non-Americans' views of American politics. I guess I just find it interesting to hear the "from the outside, looking in" perspective, regardless of whether I agree with it or not. But that's just me...
When Obama was running and first elected, I was often asked by non-Americans here to share my feelings about it. I think that's because it was such a "big deal" at the time to 1) finally get Bush out of office and 2) to have a black president elected. But those questions have pretty much fizzled out by now.
I've actually been curious what people think about Obama now that he's been in office for a while, but I fear/sense that I better reserve that question for somewhere other than this forum.

amaraya 05.06.2011 13:54

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
i think i'm a bit over talking about politics in general because i feel it's somehow irrelevant to life in general. i know that's a bit ott but when i am on the other side, for example with friends who are suisse but with other backgrounds and they discuss the politics from the home country, i feel, regardless of what i think i know about these issues, that i really know nothing at all compared to those who had to live through it (thinking specifically about our serbo/croatian friends, etc).

i guess i've become cynical (wah.) to what info we get and how it can be interpreted and so i prefer to hear what people have to say about their experiences when they feel like talking about it, not because i want to compare or compete with my ideas about the whole thing, which is imo stupid because what i know from western media is strikingly different from what they know first hand.

that being said, i prefer that others do the same, although i understand that many won't. if i want to talk about politics in the u.s i will, other than that i am much more interested in reality based conversations:D.

mathnut gave an example of the perfect cue to when to drop the political talk and move on. after a few nods and ahuhs from someone you are having a political conversation with (or to...:rolleyes:) it's time to drop it and ask where they found their vanilla extract...much more pressing issues:D

foliorose 05.06.2011 13:59

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I've met very few non-Americans interested in discussing American politics. What I usually encounter is people who have a bone to pick with the US or, in other words, with ME since I'm American and right in front of them. These people typically want to vent their frustrations, express their viewpoint in an unbridled fashion and rant in general. As a Political Science major, I find discussions wonderful and tirades tiresome! ;)

evilshell 05.06.2011 13:59

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I agree with Carrie, I enjoy hearing the outside looking in viewpoint - although to be honest, these days I am on the outside looking in. I've been gone for 9 years this year, the US feels more foreign to me than home.

Now that Bush is gone and Obama's been in office for a while, people don't really approach me as much about politics as soon as they hear my accent.

During the Bush II era, it was a difficult time to be American overseas. People would often give unsolicited opinions (which I frequently agreed with, but that's neither here nor there, it was uncomfortable to have people complain about the war mongers when I didn't have anything to do with the wars!) At the end of a German course I attended in 2003, we met with other classes taking the same level of German as my class. We were told to introduce ourselves to everyone and make small talk about ourselves, including where we come from, in German. One woman approached me, asked me where I was from. I answered that I was from the US and her face turned to stone and she walked away.

amaraya 05.06.2011 14:09

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
well that's just it. i don't mind discussing politics if it is a discussion, give and take. but what i have found is that people think because you are from the states they can say and think what they like about you and who you are and what you stand for. ug. that is very tiring. i like to know what people's take on things are too, but i don't like to have to be a representative of the country or defend myself against ridiculously simplistic and uninformed assumptions.

discussing politics that lead to discussions of other things are great, but as a fly and spider game it's just tiring. and i can imagine when bush was in office what a blast that was to be abroad- people don't understand the scope and diversity surrounding politics in the u.s and although i used to try to explain to them, i'm a bit too bored to do that now... usually it doesn't do too much good anyway. even if they understand what i am saying, it'll end with,"well, i can't say i like americans but i like you." . ug. even if you give a pig a pep talk it still doesn't mean he'll be able to fly...

Pancakes 05.06.2011 14:13

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by evilshell (Post 1218650)
these days I am on the outside looking in. I've been gone for 9 years this year, the US feels more foreign to me than home.

I feel the same way...
It seems that now, whenever I go back to visit the States, I feel like I am a foreigner, "on the outside, looking in." I see so much about the US so differently now than I did while I was living there. Things I use to think were "normal" I now realize aren't necessarily "normal." Even just simple things like how strange it is to me now... to see 3 gas stations and/or fast food restaurants per intersection, etc. I actually do see now what an incredibly capitalist-driven society it really is.

chiguy 05.06.2011 14:23

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

For the purposes of this discussion, "foreigner" means someone who is not a citizen of the United States of America.

I should, of course, have written "foreigners and Englishmen", but there is a character limit to the thread title.
And, of course for purposes of this discussion, the word "American" refers to citizens of the USA and not Canadians, Mexicans ornany other citizens of countries in North and South America. ;)

Sky 05.06.2011 15:07

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
As a hybrid who has been here since forever, I've witnessed many changes in the European perception of the US and its citizens (not just Switzerland).

As a child it used to be fun. People loved the States, they thought that everything American was interesting. People were curious about us and there was a feeling of empathy.

In the 70s there was still a large % of the European population who had lived through WWII and who perceived the US as a benefactor... with a touch of Hollywood glam (just for the stereotype).


Then in the 90s the emotion started to change, slowly at first as those who could remember WWII were no longer there or had been too young at the time.
The feeling was precipitated with the happenings on the world scene from 2001 all the way until Obama came to office.

Those were tough times.
People could be insensitive, happy to chew your ear off because they happened to have a sample in front of them.
It was quite disconcerting.
Didn't matter if you were a liberal democrat, as an American one had to listen to the loads of feeling being dished out.


I also found the Americans themselves quite difficult, for the response was to become very closed up. I disliked the nascent attitude "them vs us".
Who are "we", who are "they" ?

Fright and difficulty lead to this.

With time, it will all swing back to a balanced center, with a comfort level for everybody.

No, I don’t really feel comfy discussing current politics with anybody, regardless of their nationality. Discussing history and ideas is enjoyable though.

HollidayG 05.06.2011 15:10

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Most of the time, the discussion is a one-way critic of American policies.

Most of the people have no clue as to how the American society
and politics play a role in the lives of the average American.

smackerjack 05.06.2011 15:12

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Some dear American friends always talk politics when we get together . They seem to be black or white on their choices though.
British friends don't seem to be so intense on their feelings.
Personally, I love to hear about the politics of another country and am all ears.
Most girlfriends tend to guide the conversation around to the wives of world leaders ..:D

evilshell 05.06.2011 15:35

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiguy (Post 1218674)
And, of course for purposes of this discussion, the word "American" refers to citizens of the USA and not Canadians, Mexicans ornany other citizens of countries in North and South America. ;)

They're not Americans. They are North Americans and South Americans, along with being Canadians, Americans, Mexicans, Chileans, etc.

JennifromSC 05.06.2011 15:35

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I had hoped to get away from US politics by moving out of the country :rolleyes:

Joy2 05.06.2011 17:36

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Why, dear Mr. Breakfast, thanks for asking. In a word ... tiiiiiresome.

I don't have enough experience yet with the Swiss, but having spent a number of years in Germany and traveling there often, I am afraid to say that I have become sick and tired of people with a default anti-American setting. There is rarely a true discussion of "American politics", rather tired one-liners about American policies overseas, which I may or may not even agree with. It's quite frustrating when the other person is not interested in the history of the issue or your own opinion (which may, in fact, be in agreement with his own), but only wishes to give his or her opinion based on very little experience with the real United States.

Luckily, I have come to understand that these discussions have very little to do with me and very much to do with the lack of education or dearth of curiousity of that person. If someone is truly interested in the political process of or current events in the U.S., I am more than happy to discuss it with him. If he plans to somehow make himself feel better by smacking down an American, I no longer have time for that in my life and I find that it reflects poorly on him/her. And yes, it's really funny when someone tells me, "Aber du bist die Ausnahme." Really? That's a complete copout. I have many very interesting, intelligent, fabulous friends in the U.S. Are they ALL "die Ausnhamen?" I don't think so. It's so nice to be older and wiser and not take things personally.

My husband has lived in the U.S. for over 15 years and recently became a citizen. Why? Because in all of those years, no one has EVER criticized him for being German. He finds the never-ending, superficial discussion of American politics in his country of birth unbelievably annoying as well.

st2lemans 05.06.2011 17:51

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HollidayG (Post 1218702)
Most of the people have no clue as to how the American society and politics play a role in the lives of the average American.

They play a role in the lives of the average American:eek:?

Tom

KeinFranzösisch 05.06.2011 17:54

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I was faced with this recently while having lunch with a Swiss and an American colleague who is completely on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me.

Having been actively engaged in politics back in the States, the subject is something I will discuss willingly. And while our Swiss colleague grilled us on our perceptions of American politics, which differ significantly, the one thing we did agree on was American foreign policy.

It was also interesting to hear from our Swiss colleague his take on American politics.

Joy2 05.06.2011 18:42

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by KeinFranzösisch (Post 1218809)
I was faced with this recently while having lunch with a Swiss and an American colleague who is completely on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me.

Having been actively engaged in politics back in the States, the subject is something I will discuss willingly. And while our Swiss colleague grilled us on our perceptions of American politics, which differ significantly, the one thing we did agree on was American foreign policy.

It was also interesting to hear from our Swiss colleague his take on American politics.

Now this would be an interesting discussion, with three participants who are actively interested in the others' viewpoints and who maybe even want to LEARN something!

Motorschweitz 05.06.2011 18:54

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
The biggest problem with discussing politics with anyone, foreign or American, is that you can't get beyond that the impassioned person discussing politics is judging you - if you agree with them, you're a good person, and if you disagree, then you are the scum of the earth. This is a real problem with a stranger or an acquaintance and often quashes (or serves as a hindrance to) a nascent friendship.

Politics is so polarized nowadays that I am not comfortable discussing it with anyone until I am confident that I know them well enough (and even then, tread lightly). Otherwise, it's a bunch of noncommittal responses as I seek an escape hatch.

POWERlifter 05.06.2011 19:04

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I would sooooooo love to live in the US, because the domestic issues seem solvable, but we have 3 problems:

- US totally overreacted to 9/11. Instead of going after a small group of criminals with smart intelligence, they invaded two countries by full military scale. A total human, financial and political disaster.
- US should go totally electric in transportation. Stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia, so US could leave the middle east/muslim world. Start building electric cars, thousands of windturbines, solarthermal and geothermal powerplants.... jobs, jobs, jobs.
- Relationship with Israel. The Israelis have to push forward a solution with the Palestines based on the 1967 fronteers and stop building settlements. They cannot always count on the US support and behave totally unproductive.

But I'm quite pessimistic. I dont see how the US economy should recover, so they'll vote for Palin in 2012, ...and than ladies and gentlemen, goodnight everyone. :eek:

Joy2 05.06.2011 19:28

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by POWERlifter (Post 1218855)
I would sooooooo love to live in the US, because the domestic issues seem solvable, but we have 3 problems:

- US totally overreacted to 9/11. Instead of going after a small group of criminals with smart intelligence, they invaded two countries by full military scale. A total human, financial and political disaster.
- US should go totally electric in transportation. Stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia, so US could leave the middle east/muslim world. Start building electric cars, thousands of windturbines, solarthermal and geothermal powerplants.... jobs, jobs, jobs.
- Relationship with Israel. The Israelis have to push forward a solution with the Palestines based on the 1967 fronteers and stop building settlements. They cannot always count on the US support and behave totally unproductive.

But I'm quite pessimistic. I dont see how the US economy should recover, so they'll vote for Palin in 2012, ...and than ladies and gentlemen, goodnight everyone. :eek:

Do we need to start a political discussion, on this very thread? :rolleyes:

Peg A 05.06.2011 19:30

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by POWERlifter (Post 1218855)
I would sooooooo love to live in the US, because the domestic issues seem solvable, but we have 3 problems:

- US totally overreacted to 9/11. Instead of going after a small group of criminals with smart intelligence, they invaded two countries by full military scale. A total human, financial and political disaster.
- US should go totally electric in transportation. Stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia, so US could leave the middle east/muslim world. Start building electric cars, thousands of windturbines, solarthermal and geothermal powerplants.... jobs, jobs, jobs.
- Relationship with Israel. The Israelis have to push forward a solution with the Palestines based on the 1967 fronteers and stop building settlements. They cannot always count on the US support and behave totally unproductive.

But I'm quite pessimistic. I dont see how the US economy should recover, so they'll vote for Palin in 2012, ...and than ladies and gentlemen, goodnight everyone. :eek:


Powerlifter... seems to me this thread is discussing whether or not any of us Americans care to discuss politics rather than a thread actually discussing American politics.

I do hope you can see the difference now that it's been pointed out?

cannut 05.06.2011 20:03

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
If Beer ,BBQ,Margaritas,Beaches etc etc falls under Politics,then my favorite daughter in Law (Georgia Girl)and I are happy talking politic:D:p

st2lemans 05.06.2011 20:11

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by POWERlifter (Post 1218855)
they'll vote for Palin in 2012

I sure would, alas I'm expatriated now. :p

Tom

miniMia 05.06.2011 21:18

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Can't believe I picked the wrong answer! lol.

I don't necessarily mind people talking about US politics or whatever aspect of the US. It does annoy me that people think they know what I think, who I am, my opinions, the basis of my opinions, what I know or don't know about the world, politics, history, etc, etc based solely on the fact that I was born in the US or really based on their perception of who Americans are.

What I really find tiresome however is talking to conspiracy theorists. Seriously. Try "discussing" with one of them. You'll want to slit your wrists.

Guest 05.06.2011 21:30

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miniMia (Post 1218963)
What I really find tiresome however is talking to conspiracy theorists. Seriously. Try "discussing" with one of them. You'll want to slit your wrists.


Has anyone had the pleasure of meeting the chap (possibly even a member of this forum) who lurks around Orel Fuessli in Zurich, waiting to pounce on suitable victims, whom he treats to a long analysis of who's running the planet today? He's English, quite well spoken (vaguely southern accent), decently dressed - so clearly not a complete basket case.

He collared me when I was there in a sort-of official capacity and couldn't escape, so I felt obliged to tell him that I was an aerotarian and hadn't eaten any food for several years, therefore his theories on modern nutrition and the military-industrial food industry were of little interest to me.

If you're reading this, old chap, please accept my apologies - but you were really getting on my tits, so you can't really blame me for enjoying a little sport, can you?

Sky 05.06.2011 21:32

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
:msnunsure: .....where on earth does that last expression come from ?

Guest 05.06.2011 21:35

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sky (Post 1218978)
:msnunsure: .....where on earth does that last expression come from ?

Sport? Latin, I think.

Ask Faltrad - he's good at this sort of thing. :)

MrVertigo 05.06.2011 21:45

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
I can't remember meeting a US republican in switzerland. Is it fair to assume that most expat US in CH are democrats?

Guest 05.06.2011 21:46

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MrVertigo (Post 1218988)
I can't remember meeting a US republican in switzerland. Is it fair to assume that most expat US in CH are democrats?

Not necessarily, but it's fair to assume that republicans tend to keep their mouths shut when behind enemy lines. ;)

cannut 05.06.2011 22:07

Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?
 
[QUOTE=MrVertigo;1218988]I can't remember meeting a US republican in switzerland. Is it fair to assume that most expat US in CH are democrats?[/QUOTE]
And voting for Ralph Nader:p


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