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Similar interests, different points of view

Pennsylvania Avenue and The Capitol, Washington (26 Oct 2009)

Pennsylvania Avenue and The Capitol, Washington (Oct 2009)

I know you shouldn’t generalise, but sometimes I think it might be possible to sum up politics in the United States of America as ‘similar interests, different points of view’.

Considering its length and breadth, of both land and of ideas and political extremes, the United States must have a remarkable political system to hold all of its people and states together.

I recently did a tour of the Capitol in Washington DC; an outstanding building and a fascinating tour, thanks to the tour guide Nick.

The Capitol and tour guide Nick (Oct 2009)

The Capitol and tour guide Nick (Oct 2009)

The tour takes you through some very interesting areas of the building and touches on some enthralling events in the history of the United States. This gives you an impression of the amazing range of views and ideas the diverse population encapsulates.

On the one hand, this diversity has culminated in horrendous events such as the Civil War and in the terrible treatment of indigenous people and African Americans for example, but it has also lead to astonishing technological, medical and social change, and enabled the United States to become strong enough to tip the balance of power in the Second World War and stop the relentless rise of fascist dictatorships in Europe and Asia.

Freedom Plaza, Washington (Oct 2009)

Freedom Plaza, Washington (Oct 2009)

For all its faults (and what system doesn’t have faults?) the political system in the United States must have some pretty sound ideas in its basic set up, because even with the extraordinary tension of people passionately pulling in different directions and the barely restrained corporate power of ‘big business’, most of the time it actually works for a significant majority of its people.

And how many countries and political systems across the world can truthfully say that?

Lincoln Memorial, Washington (Oct 2009)

Lincoln Memorial, Washington (Oct 2009)

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