Rights, freedoms, duties and obligations: Why we need to stop criticising the US and learn about our Constitution

I was going to put this in tomorrow’s post but it got a bit long, so no food or allotment post today, come back next week.

I’m British, this is written from that perspective, I am not disputing the right of US citizens to elect whoever they damn well please. I can disagree with your choice, I can worry about the affect this is going to have on the world, on black and minority Americans and even on the people that voted for him and you can’t stop me. You just go ahead and do what you need to do and I’ll pray that the planet isn’t destroyed before you have another election. This is primarily about my fellow British citizens and what they have been saying about Americans in the last week.

My frustration isn’t just about people having a go at the USA (it can look after itself), it’s about increasing ignorance in this country that worries me. Last week, the right wing popular press launched an attack on the judiciary and I wrote something about that. This last week, I’ve heard so much criticism and implied superiority from people around me that are ignorant and don’t understand either our system or the American one.

I happen to know a bit about the American system because I studied it at A level but I know about mine because that is my duty as a citizen and and voter to learn about it, to know and understand what I’m participating in. It straight up frightens me that so many people don’t. My friend, Kathy became a British citizen yesterday, she had to take the Oath of Allegiance and Pledge of Loyalty. Here they are:

Oath of Allegiance: “I swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.”

Pledge: “I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.”

I’m not so keen on the one about Queenie, I’m a republican, but how many of us would be able to articulate our rights, freedoms and obligations as citizens? Certainly not the editor of the Daily Mail based on last weeks performance.

We need to stop bashing the US and Americans and pretending that the British system is better and that our electorate wouldn’t do this. I get it, it’s horrifying, Trump is a clown, he’s ignorant, duplicious and orange and look at who he’s appointing? I half joking told Ma the other day that maybe we should be reading Revelations because surely this is a sign of End Times. There are a couple of reasons, I’m trying really hard not to…

First, I know lots of Americans and not one of them voted Trump although yes, many of their family and friends did.  I know how this feels because many of my friends and family voted for Brexit (happy is the person who can say that their nearest and dearest share the same politics as them, I can’t). Many of the people I know that voted for Brexit, are asking how the hell could Trump have happened. This amuses me. There will be lots of analysis about the people who voted for Trump and why they did so but I’m going to go with what I said after the referendum vote.

I know that angry, scared people make bad decisions, this a failure of politics and it was a close vote.

Second, Hillary won the popular vote, the majority of voters in the US didn’t vote for Trump. I understand that a Trump victory will be scary and have consequences for black and minority Americans (and the rest of the world) and it’s scary. However, the majority of Americans didn’t chose this. Why are we so superior? We’re not exactly doing brilliantly over here, post Brexit. Let’s think about this and not be name calling because it makes us feel less frightened and more intelligent.

Third, the electoral college is a stupid system which doesn’t correctly express the will of the people but the US system isn’t any better or worse than any other form of democracy which has been described as ‘the worse form of Goverment, except for all the others’  (and that’s Churchill so don’t be having a go about my lefty politics on this!). In the last 37 years no British government of either persuasion has won more than 43% of the popular vote. The popular vote for Trump, for better or worse, came in higher than that and in it’s 238 year history, there have only been 4 occasions when a US President been elected without a majority of the popular vote. Our system of government is not looking quite so superior now, is it?

Could we please understand our history, government and politics and work to reform and participate in them and hush with our moaning about other electorates in other countries?

About nicdempsey

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1 Response to Rights, freedoms, duties and obligations: Why we need to stop criticising the US and learn about our Constitution

  1. Pingback: Best/Worst 21 to 27 August 2017 | Nic Dempsey

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