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View Poll Results: Americans: How do you feel when foreigners want to discuss politics with you?
It's nice that they are interested, and I welcome the opportunity to talk about my country. 29 42.65%
I find it ill-mannered and annoying. 5 7.35%
I find it amusing, and rather enjoy baiting them. 9 13.24%
I tolerate it with good humour, although I'd rather talk about other things. 25 36.76%
Voters: 68. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 05.06.2011, 12:35
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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...
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Old 05.06.2011, 12:51
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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 12:55
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 14:23
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 15:07
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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.
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Old 07.06.2011, 09:12
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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...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......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.....
Actually imo the rot set in with Reagan and continued with Bush 1 as far as much of the rest of the world was concerned.

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I'm married to an American, and am gradually learning to love the immense hidden depths of culture that lie behind European stereotypes of the New World, but one thing I have learnt is this: don't even attempt to understand - or, for that matter, express an opinion about - their politics.

That is their business, and many Americans - even those with right wing tendencies - might well take offence at a foreigner trying to tell them what's right and wrong about the way they do things.

Best to stick to the wonderful music, the delicious food and the fascinating complexity of their nation, and leave the politics to those who actually have a right to vote there.
Going back to this post on the other thread (more appropriate here, I believe), this is only partially true. The rest of us have a perfect right to comment on US politics to the extent it affects us and our lives, not only in the obvious area of foreign policy but also for example in things like economic affairs which has possibly a stronger impact on all of us.

What we don't have the right to do is blame individual Americans for the policies of their government. Unless they voted for Bush 2 of course!
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Old 05.06.2011, 15:10
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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 17:51
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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?

Tom
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Old 05.06.2011, 17:54
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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 19:04
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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.
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Old 06.06.2011, 02:48
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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.
Totally wrong, sorry but this is to be said straight on . When talking this my TX/LA relatives, upon my acceptance of the superior wisdom of the capitalistic TX ways and the LA wisdom of the LA socialist ways everything was perfect It was the same in military service in Graubründen
and is the same wherever
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Old 12.06.2011, 11:15
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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.

Very true. I generally avoid it or 'uh, huh' while looking repeatedly at my watch.
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Old 05.06.2011, 15:12
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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 ..
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Old 05.06.2011, 15:35
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 15:35
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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
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Old 05.06.2011, 12:59
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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
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Old 05.06.2011, 13:02
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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 ...
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Old 05.06.2011, 13:05
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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 ...
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...
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Old 05.06.2011, 13:16
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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.
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Old 05.06.2011, 13:20
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Re: Americans: Foreigners who want to talk politics - boring, annoying or harmless?

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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.
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