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I Was Wrong About Italy

Two entries ago, I blogged about overseas attitudes towards the US election. I mentioned that a colleague of mine had just returned from Italy and that I suspected what he heard there would fit with what I've heard from people in Australia, Germany, Canada, and other nations.

In fact, it didn't fit. My colleague has family in Northern Italy, which is where he stayed, and Northern Italy is a conservative region of the country, with a long tradition of supporting the US militarily (a number of US bases are there).

Me: So you're saying that the average Northern Italian 'man in the street' supports Bush and what we're doing in Iraq?

Colleague: Yes. But our Australian friends whom we saw there -- that was different. They said, "You've got to do something about Bush."

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"But our Australian friends whom we saw there -- that was different. They said, "You've got to do something about Bush.""

Australia? Um, isn't that the country where voters just handed a landslide election victory to a guy who's a major supporter of "Bush's war"? Guess your colleague's friends were a bit out of the mainstream.

From everything I've read and heard, Howard's victory was in spite of his stance on Iraq, not because of it. He successfully convinced voters that interest rates would rise under his opponent and, from what I've heard, the election turned on that issue.

As for Australian attitudes toward the war:

The weekend telephone survey of 1,001 voters nationwide, conducted for The Associated Press, found only seven per cent of respondents accepted Mr Howard's argument that the war had decreased the threat of terrorism around the world.

Two-thirds of Australians (66 per cent) said military action in Iraq had increased the threat of terrorism in the world, while 23 per cent said it had no effect and four per cent did not know.

Those who said Australia's support for the war was a mistake narrowly outnumbered those who endorsed it, 48 per cent to 45 per cent. The remainder did not know or refused to say.

If 66 percent of Australians believe that the war in Iraq has "increased the threat of terrorism in the world", I'd say it's clear that my friend's friends are most definitely not "a bit out of the mainstream".

And that's the problem with our current form of democracy.

You get to vote once every three (or four in the US) years for one of two political options. It is naive and absurd to assume that every one who votes for either of the two political party options agrees with every one of their positions. You don't get to vote for which policies you like and which ones you don't like. You just get to vote for one of two 'bundles' of political policies - some you probably agree with, and others you don't.

Making a choice between parties means prioritising which of the policies are most important to you - and making a choice on those. This probably means that most people have to live with voting for a party that has policies they don't like or agree with.

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