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Trump and the connection between democracy and tyranny

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This was a fascinating read I came across while parsing through The Atlantic.  It frames Trump as a neo-fascist and an existential threat to American democracy.

NYmag: Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.

One of my favorite lines:

Quote

To call [Trump's demagoguery] fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. 

 

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I'm not against free speech on this forum, but threads that specifically target religious/political discussion hardly seem like they would relate to visual novels or Japanese 2D animation. Having a discussion such as this outside of the forums seems okay, but I really don't want to see America being attacked, seeing as I was born here and actually respect my country in some ways.

Jokes aside, this thread seems like it will turn into a mudslinging contest about America; I don't think this forum is the place for that.

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Meh. Checks and balances. Congress will either be led by a GOP that doesn't want Trump or Democrats opposed to him. Assuming Trump even wins. With the Supreme Court coming closer to a moderate overall makeup, there are plenty of ways for Trump to be kept in check. It all comes out in the wash.

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Neat article, though I'm onlly midway through it. 

They still need to sell me on Trump being a tyrant-type, but I'm having lots of fun with it so far.

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2 hours ago, OriginalRen said:

Jokes aside, this thread seems like it will turn into a mudslinging contest about America; I don't think this forum is the place for that.

When the thread descends into disrespect then I suppose the mods will have a decision to make. Until then it's a VERY worthwhile article, and is something that people have generally known for a while - too much democracy is never a good thing (do note that there are exceptions to the rule.) But those feeling the need to sling mud at only America have blinkers on, because this is very much a Western World problem -> the idea of 'too much democracy' isn't a problem that just America is facing. I can guarantee you that Australia and Europe are currently facing similar 'tyranny of the majority' issues.

 

Quote

And what mainly fuels this is precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness. Online debates become personal, emotional, and irresolvable almost as soon as they begin. Godwin’s Law — it’s only a matter of time before a comments section brings up Hitler — is a reflection of the collapse of the reasoned deliberation the Founders saw as indispensable to a functioning republic.

That quote nails modern internet culture. Also most of the debates on Fuwanovel. (Also most of the youth of today. And 4chan. Well, 4chan doesn't even pretend to be reasoned.) And you can apply it to any debate on any topic on the internet. People arguing on feelings and emotions rather than reason and logic. It's as though before you get into an internet debate, you need to send each participant a box of tissues and a stress ball because you'll hardly begin before the tears, teenage angst/bitching, and namecalling begins to flow.

Go on a developer's site to complain about problems and BAM, you'll be targeted by a mob. But these people will then be targeted by a different mob - a mob of opposing views. Then the name calling starts. Then the crying starts. Then the capital letters start. And you're left there thinking ... I was only bringing up an issue.

EDIT: The internet used to be a lot better back in the 90s. You could actually have intellectual discourse with people, because the other people on the internet were pretty smart also. These days, it's getting harder to find intellectual discussion. These days, there's a lot of trolls and posts full of nerd rage. Also no social networking, and it was slow, meant you couldn't live on the internet 24/7 which meant talking with people who were actually a little bit grounded and not driven stupid by living in the virtual world all day every day. Everyone benefitted when only a select, nerdy few wanted or were capable of getting on the internet. Now everybody's on it and it's a dump, and yes, it's everybody's fault. That means most of you reading this thread. For shame!

EDIT2: No idea how I got on that topic. Don't ask, for I can't tell.

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1 hour ago, Rooke said:

EDIT: The internet used to be a lot better back in the 90s. You could actually have intellectual discourse with people, because the other people on the internet were pretty smart also. These days, it's getting harder to find intellectual discussion. These days, there's a lot of trolls and posts full of nerd rage. Also no social networking, and it was slow, meant you couldn't live on the internet 24/7 which meant talking with people who were actually a little bit grounded and not driven stupid by living in the virtual world all day every day. Everyone benefitted when only a select, nerdy few wanted or were capable of getting on the internet. Now everybody's on it and it's a dump, and yes, it's everybody's fault. That means most of you reading this thread. For shame!

TIL Rooke is a proud representative of the "Like this if you are a 90's kid" movement.

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What is wrong with you people?  We need Trump-sempai to Make the USSA Great Again!  It's not just for Americans, Japan needs America to be great again just as much as Americans.  Most Americans don't realize how much of a problem it is for Japan to have a pussy in charge.  But the Japanese with their eyes open know.  Trump-sempai will give Japan the kick in the ass she needs to be great again.  When Japan is great again anime will be great again. Why don't you want Japan to be great again? You must be hateful, hurtful, racist, bigoted, sexist, xenophobic Japanphobes who kidnap kittens and eat them alive.

This tall drink of umeshu knows what's up. Random-kun for Prime Minister! And my waifu no. 612!

You think some liberal pussy who wants to sell Japan to the Chinese will keep the world safe for anime and galge? NO! A vote for Trump is a vote for Japan and a vote to Make Anime Great Again!

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There's something funny in the schizophrenic way Sullivan displays side to side elitist conservatism with liberal values. I hear he's often been like this.
There's a latent fear of the masses that is kinda imbued throughout his whole article (if only by the claim that the issue is that there can be "too much democracy") but at the same time he can't really bring himself to say the increase of inclusivity and representativity of minorities, and the lifting of several anti-democratic barriers in the US system, are bad things, because you know that wouldn't be progressive, and liberals are always progressive,  history is obviously going towards more progress y'know.

Another type of schizophreny: that of the color-blind, gender-blind liberal. Sullivan is "obviously" for everyone's equality yet he manages to make several claims that "white male culture" is being demonized, which proves that he doesn't understand at all how minorities movement work, what's at stake and what are the issues, but also that he probably lives in a parallel world.

Anyway, the problem is not that there's too much democracy, it's that there's not enough. The article can flaunt all the increase in democracy there's been, it doesn't change the fact that there remains many structural issues with current political systems. With its Electoral College and its complete lack of regulations on campaign spending and funding and media coverage, the US arguably has "less" democracy in its system than we have in France, yet the french system is still terrible. On the politician side, structural issues make it so that representatives don't represent people at all. On the people's side, the fact that politics has been reduced to elections and that everything is done to de-politize a lot of other things make it so that people are not involved enough in politics. Democracy would gain a lot from having people more involved in politics overall, and that doesn't mean sitting there waiting for people to get interested into politics but making the system so that they do get involved.

Debates are fueled by emotion and personal position: no shit bro. That's not a new hot take specific to the internet, Spinoza already talked about all of this centuries ago. Human beings are not rational most of the time. Most of what drives us is our passions. Debates on political matters that would happen on a pacified public place where everyone would be equal and rational are mere fantasy.
And what's true of the masses is true of the so-called elite too. They're not more rational, they're not any less determined by the social, political, historical structures in which they evolve.
There is no virtuous people, so what we need is virtuous institutions, a system which will push everyone upwards, and that's probably not representative democracy. One could even wonder if it would be democracy period, maybe the anarchists were right all along, who knows. One thing is for sure, it's that on the contrary the internet, through its network, horizontal, decentralized structure is a huge step forward. It may take a while but it will, like any structure, have deep effects our society. Assuming we don't all die before, of course.

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1 hour ago, Down said:

There's something funny in the schizophrenic way Sullivan displays side to side elitist conservatism with liberal values. I hear he's often been like this.
There's a latent fear of the masses that is kinda imbued throughout his whole article (if only by the claim that the issue is that there can be "too much democracy") but at the same time he can't really bring himself to say the increase of inclusivity and representativity of minorities, and the lifting of several anti-democratic barriers in the US system, are bad things, because you know that wouldn't be progressive, and liberals are always progressive,  history is obviously going towards more progress y'know.

Another type of schizophreny: that of the color-blind, gender-blind liberal. Sullivan is "obviously" for everyone's equality yet he manages to make several claims that "white male culture" is being demonized, which proves that he doesn't understand at all how minorities movement work, what's at stake and what are the issues, but also that he probably lives in a parallel world.

Anyway, the problem is not that there's too much democracy, it's that there's not enough. The article can flaunt all the increase in democracy there's been, it doesn't change the fact that there remains many structural issues with current political systems. With its Electoral College and its complete lack of regulations on campaign spending and funding and media coverage, the US arguably has "less" democracy in its system than we have in France, yet the french system is still terrible. On the politician side, structural issues make it so that representatives don't represent people at all. On the people's side, the fact that politics has been reduced to elections and that everything is done to de-politize a lot of other things make it so that people are not involved enough in politics. Democracy would gain a lot from having people more involved in politics overall, and that doesn't mean sitting there waiting for people to get interested into politics but making the system so that they do get involved.

Debates are fueled by emotion and personal position: no shit bro. That's not a new hot take specific to the internet, Spinoza already talked about all of this centuries ago. Human beings are not rational most of the time. Most of what drives us is our passions. Debates on political matters that would happen on a pacified public place where everyone would be equal and rational are mere fantasy.
And what's true of the masses is true of the so-called elite too. They're not more rational, they're not any less determined by the social, political, historical structures in which they evolve.
There is no virtuous people, so what we need is virtuous institutions, a system which will push everyone upwards, and that's probably not representative democracy. One could even wonder if it would be democracy period, maybe the anarchists were right all along, who knows. One thing is for sure, it's that on the contrary the internet, through its network, horizontal, decentralized structure is a huge step forward. It may take a while but it will, like any structure, have deep effects our society. Assuming we don't all die before, of course.

Fuck, I love you. Except the "there are no virtuous people" quote. Tabula rasa is a myth and a lie.

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2 hours ago, Down said:

Anyway, the problem is not that there's too much democracy, it's that there's not enough. The article can flaunt all the increase in democracy there's been, it doesn't change the fact that there remains many structural issues with current political systems. With its Electoral College and its complete lack of regulations on campaign spending and funding and media coverage, the US arguably has "less" democracy in its system than we have in France, yet the french system is still terrible. On the politician side, structural issues make it so that representatives don't represent people at all. On the people's side, the fact that politics has been reduced to elections and that everything is done to de-politize a lot of other things make it so that people are not involved enough in politics. Democracy would gain a lot from having people more involved in politics overall, and that doesn't mean sitting there waiting for people to get interested into politics but making the system so that they do get involved.

 

I'd argue that there is too much democracy. People collectively are absolutely stupid. Small scale, look at the VN fandom. Large scale, let it sink in that people have chosen the crooked, corrupt Hillary Clinton and the crazy, racist, morally bankrupt Donald Trump as the leading Presidential candidates. The alternatives to them were a idealistic socialist who has never once held a real job outside of congress, and the zodiac killer, I mean the man who has constantly refused to work with anyone who is not a born again Christian in his image. The Electoral College was originally set up to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening, but in an effort to give the masses more power, the nature of it changed, to where the electors now simply choose the way their state votes. 

In regards to money, most Americans agree the amount of money being spent and sent to politicians is outrageous, hence the rise of Trump who has mostly self funded his campaign. People constantly say, "He can't be bought!" because he is the one who has been buying politicians for years basically. Voters in the US are incredibly frustrated, which is why fringe candidates who normally would fizzle out in a few months (Trump, Sanders) now has staying power. People recognize the need for change, but disagree on the nature of the change. 

I always love it when foreigners try to explain away the US political system so ignorantly :) 

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1 hour ago, solidbatman said:

I always love it when foreigners try to explain away the US political system so ignorantly :) 

Unfortunately, foreigners like @Down know more about the US political system than 90% of Americans.  Being a foreigner by no means makes him unqualified to comment.  And again, it was @Rooke who made the point that American democracy is by no means unique.  Most affluent Western nations share a similar system.

However, tyranny of the majority is a thing, which is why we have constitutional limits on government power, separation of powers, and a judiciary that is remote from the political process.  This is why it's all the more concerning that judicial appointments are being politicized.  This is EXACTLY what the founders of our political system were trying to avoid.  If we keep this up our republic is going to give way sooner or later to mob rule (i.e., democracy).

What terrifies me most about Trump is how he oversimplifies complex problems and promises outlandish "solutions" that would make these problems far worse, not better.  All politicians do this to some degree, but Trump is by far the most anti-intellectual candidate that's achieved popular support.  This sort of deliberate delusional mass indoctrination of the public is classically associated with authoritarianism, cultism and yes--fascism.

The more I reflect, the more I realized Obama was everything I wanted in a president.  He's careful, deliberate, reasonably apolitical, and his arguments are reasoned and nuanced.  He recognizes and embraces the complexity of the problems America faces.  Trump is his antithesis.

If I had a message to the American people, it would be this: elect a president who will be an effective leader, not simply one who will champion your pet cause.

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1 hour ago, solidbatman said:

I always love it when foreigners try to explain away the US political system so ignorantly :) 

Welcome to the internet. Let me say that for once, I know where you're coming from. As a guy living in the Middle East, I can't help but sigh when I see people overseas suggest ridiculously stupid solutions to the problems this region of mine faces. "Just nuke ISIS/Saudi/Iran/all za Middle East while you're at it" seems to be the general consensus at times. And surprisingly, I also agree with you on "the masses are stupid" point, and am rather surprised to see this new critique of democracy that is getting more and more prevalent over the internet. A few years back, especially around the start of the Arab spring, democracy was the divine way of a modern country to function that none would dare question, and anyone even considering something else is "Hitler". It's rather refreshing to see a little more open mindedness now.

I don't claim to know much about American internal affairs so I can't comment much on it specifically. But I do think that this odd belief that Westerners in general seem to have, the belief that "democracy is the objective best thing ever", is rather... Troublesome, to say the least. It naturally demonizes every other alternative without much of a reason. If I were to ask most people today why Democracy is "good", the average answer will be something along the lines of "well, at least it's not fucking communism". Personally, I don't think there's a global, all-righteous and correct way to make a functioning government. While democracy has been relatively successful in the West, that is not the case for the rest of the world. If you look at the Middle East for example, you would find that monarchies are much more economically successful and progressive, and politically stable than "democratic" countries.

In other words, "what might work for you won't necessarily work for everyone else". Whoever becomes president this time, there is going to be a very large segment of the population that won't accept the result. In my opinion, when the biggest Democracy starts not accepting the results of its own system, it's a sign that it's not working any longer. And that's really why systems are a thing: To make things work. If Democracy works in a certain place for a ceratin period of time, then it's the "correct" way as far as anyone can say, not for any deep philosophical reason. If it doesn't, then maybe a new way is better :P

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2 hours ago, Palas said:

Except the "there are no virtuous people" quote. Tabula rasa is a myth and a lie.

Heh. I'm not sure I'd argue in favor or tabula rasa. It's just that making an assumption about "human nature" is really risky in general. A year or two ago I'd probably have told you that I think humans are, overall, good "in nature". Nowadays... I'm not so sure. I'd rather follow the spinozist principle that "men should be conceived of as they are, not as we want them to be".

2 hours ago, solidbatman said:

I'd argue that there is too much democracy. People collectively are absolutely stupid. Small scale, look at the VN fandom. Large scale, let it sink in that people have chosen the crooked, corrupt Hillary Clinton and the crazy, racist, morally bankrupt Donald Trump as the leading Presidential candidates. The alternatives to them were a idealistic socialist who has never once held a real job outside of congress, and the zodiac killer, I mean the man who has constantly refused to work with anyone who is not a born again Christian in his image. The Electoral College was originally set up to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening, but in an effort to give the masses more power, the nature of it changed, to where the electors now simply choose the way their state votes. 

In regards to money, most Americans agree the amount of money being spent and sent to politicians is outrageous, hence the rise of Trump who has mostly self funded his campaign. People constantly say, "He can't be bought!" because he is the one who has been buying politicians for years basically. Voters in the US are incredibly frustrated, which is why fringe candidates who normally would fizzle out in a few months (Trump, Sanders) now has staying power. People recognize the need for change, but disagree on the nature of the change. 

I always love it when foreigners try to explain away the US political system so ignorantly :) 

My whole argument is that saying "people are stupid" is saying nothing. If you assume people are stupid, act as if they were stupid, tell them they're stupid, and ask them stupid questions, they're probably gonna give a stupid answer, regardless of whether they're intelligent in general or not. So if people are acting stupid, the issue is not with the people but with the system, and it needs to change. That's all.
What kind of legitimacy would there be to a group of people in particular, the "elite", which chooses for the mass deemed too stupid to govern itself what's better for them? What, exactly, is supposed to insure these people are going to act dumb? The answer would probably be that they know what they're talking about, at least more than the average Joe, or something like that. In a society where people all have access to a minimum education, and a way to access any knowledge they want combined with a way to discuss it (the internet), that argument doesn't hold. People could be better informed, enough to take political decisions of all sorts. But for that you'd need to ask them real questions, not "which of these ten clowns do you want to have some amount of power over this country?".

Of course that'd mean pretty deep structural changes. Not something that'll happen without some big turmoil to shuffle the cards again.

I don't really understand what your second paragraph refers to in what I said. As for the last line, I don't pretend to be an expert on US politics. I couldn't possibly discuss the specifics of any candidate's program and I obviously can't gauge the political climate in the US as well as someone who lives in it. I think I know enough to make general comments on the system though - representative democracies of this kind are not that different in France or other European countries.

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3 hours ago, solidbatman said:

I always love it when foreigners try to explain away the US political system so ignorantly :) 

I, for one, appreciate the perspectives offered by those who can see the water that the fish themselves cannot see; or perhaps a better analogy would be the wife of an obese man who cannot see his own penis. :sleep:

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Just now, Fiddle said:

I, for one, appreciate the perspectives offered by those who can see the water that the fish themselves cannot see; or perhaps a better analogy would be the wife of an obese man who cannot see his own penis.

Even when said perspectives are skewed, incorrect, agenda filled and ignorant at times? 

lulz americans are dumb

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47 minutes ago, Down said:

What kind of legitimacy would there be to a group of people in particular, the "elite", which chooses for the mass deemed too stupid to govern itself what's better for them? What, exactly, is supposed to insure these people are going to act dumb? The answer would probably be that they know what they're talking about, at least more than the average Joe, or something like that. In a society where people all have access to a minimum education, and a way to access any knowledge they want combined with a way to discuss it (the internet), that argument doesn't hold. People could be better informed, enough to take political decisions of all sorts. But for that you'd need to ask them real questions, not "which of these ten clowns do you want to have some amount of power over this country?".

Oh, lemme take a shot at this one. 

People could be better informed, but I'd say that not enough to take political decisions unless we're talking daily hours of mandatory education and forced participation that are completely unrealistic.

I dunno. Politicians need to take some really important decisions, and I'd say often enough those decisions involve specific knowledge that people can't just learn from some google searches, and that we're better off letting experts in those fields take them instead. 

Not to say politicians know about those issues either... But just letting the people decide is a great way to get humanity extinct ASAP, imo. I also think it is more realistic to educate a few hundred politicians on the myriad issues they'll be deciding on than doing it to everyone.  

I could be wrong or completely crazy, though. This type of thing is too complex and out of my area of expertise.

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11 minutes ago, Kaguya said:

People could be better informed, but I'd say that not enough to take political decisions unless we're talking daily hours of mandatory education and forced participation that are completely unrealistic.

I dunno. Politicians need to take some really important decisions, and I'd say often enough those decisions involve specific knowledge that people can't just learn from some google searches, and that we're better off letting experts in those fields take them instead. 

Not to say politicians know about those issues either... But just letting the people decide is a great way to get humanity extinct ASAP, imo. I also think it is more realistic to educate a few hundred politicians on the myriad issues they'll be deciding on than doing it to everyone. 

Which is why direct democracy (i.e. everyone decides on everything) is not really practicable in societies the size and complexity of ours. Which makes the question of how to run things very complicated. What I see though is that representative democracy is mostly failing aside from the political stability part (which is already quite a lot though) because it's, well not actually really democratic. Propositions like liquid democracy (a sort of mix between representative and direct democracy) are attempts to find a solution of actual democracy.

Of course maybe clinging on to democracy is not the right way to go. Maybe we should go for one form or another of communism, or one form or another of anarchism, etc, etc...
I don't have the perfect form of governing there in my bag.

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4 hours ago, Kaguya said:

I dunno. Politicians need to take some really important decisions, and I'd say often enough those decisions involve specific knowledge that people can't just learn from some google searches, and that we're better off letting experts in those fields take them instead. 

Not to say politicians know about those issues either... But just letting the people decide is a great way to get humanity extinct ASAP, imo. I also think it is more realistic to educate a few hundred politicians on the myriad issues they'll be deciding on than doing it to everyone.

This is the entire premise of a representative democracy.  We don't want the average person, or even the collective, making important political decisions.  Christ, half the nation can't even take care of themselves, much less contribute usefully to running the country.  That's why we elect representatives who hopefully can make better decisions than we can--and they in turn appoint experts who handle the actual policymaking and implementation.  The common person influences the process, but they're not making decisions because they're not qualified to do so.  And that's exactly how it should be.  Give total power to the people and the result is mob rule--pretty much how Internet communities typically function, and we know how dysfunctional those can be.

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People are right you know. If you really haven't lived in this country (let alone visit it), I don't see how you can make this detailed of an analysis and expect to understand our political system. Commenting on it is fine, but what bothers me is when my friends from other countries just assume I am some gun wielding idiot and that our country sucks. I legitimately had a friend ask me why I live in this country. I like my state, and I like my country. Is it perfect? No. Is any country perfect? No. Still, just because I like living here doesn't mean I'm wrong.

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The major problem in our government in America isn't too much democracy, it's that we use democracy against our better interests, because those in the game control the rules, and they play off the pervasive mindset that you *have* to vote for someone with a (D) or an (R) next to his or her name. George Washington, upon leaving office, had warned everyone about the dangers of political parties. Probably one of the wisest things he ever said - too bad no one listened. The two-party system has been indoctrinated into the collective mindset since just before 1800, and we collectively refuse to break out of the rut. This is also due in part because the campaign finance rules and other portions of campaigning are completely biased against third-party opponents. And mass media only helps fuel that by selecting only certain candidates for debates (which tend to be rubbish anyway). When presented with a decent third option, the party most likely to suffer from a loss of votes due to that candidate then goes on the attack with phrases like, "A vote for Valmore is a vote for SolidBatman" This message paid for and sponsored by OriginalRen for President, further discouraging potential third party votes by using scare tactics that voting for a third party candidate only enables the nemesis to win and you're throwing your vote away. Etc.

Is it any wonder the US barely gets 50% voter turnout on an election year? Hell, look at the election now just with the primaries. Almost half the states in the nation won't even get a say in who the Republican candidate is because of this fucked up way we go state-by-state over months instead of having a single primary date for everyone. You can pretty much bank that statement with the Democrats, too, because the Bern is extinguished.

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2 hours ago, OriginalRen said:

People are right you know. If you really haven't lived in this country (let alone visit it), I don't see how you can make this detailed of an analysis and expect to understand our political system. Commenting on it is fine, but what bothers me is when my friends from other countries just assume I am some gun, wielding idiot and that our country sucks. I legitimately had a friend ask me why I live in this country. I like my state, and I like my country. Is it perfect? No. Is any country perfect? No. Still, just because I like living here doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Dunno if you've heard but there's this pretty great thing called the internet that allows you to get lots of information and even talk directly to people from other countries, and obviously people on the internet would never lie. :Teeku:

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