It’s taken me a while to catch up on election-related reading, but I’m glad I took the time. Some rather bizarre opinions out there, some of which might surprise you. One viewpoint from China, and some other parts of Asia, that is often overlooked is a very Right-wing ideology (as we would describe it in the West) when it comes to taxes and personal responsibility. This is one reason why so many Asian immigrants to the U.S. lean to the right politically, at least compared to immigrants from elsewhere.
I was reminded of this view when reading another classic Op/Ed on the U.S. election in the Global Times, my favorite nationalist news source with which I maintain a love/hate relationship. Let’s proceed directly to the cut-and-paste laboratory and get to work:
Results of the US presidential election will be made public today. No matter who wins, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, there’s no expectation either domestically or externally that US policies will dramatically change. The problems in the US will remain.
Before we get to those problems, I would just like to point out that the election was never about altering the status quo. How much more status quo can you get than a contest between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama? Modern U.S. elections are all about large sums of money, and the people that fork over that cash do not want dramatic change. But I digress.
What was that about America’s problems? The Op/Ed says that the U.S. political process has been captured by populism, which is all about pandering to voters as opposed to the “overall progress of the country.”
Let’s stop there for a moment. The argument here is that there is somehow a disconnect between what the voters want and what is best for the country as a whole. That would also suggest that a government that is too responsive to the populace is not the best model. This is obviously another way of saying that China’s system is better than that of the U.S. Fair enough, but we’ve been down that road before. There’s a much more interesting criticism lurking in the Op/Ed.
The electoral system encourages populism. Parties and politicians are slowly turned into its captives. Viewed from the literal meaning of the phrase “civil rights,” this evolution in the political system is correct. The outcome of carrying civil rights to their extreme is to maximize everyone’s benefits. The concepts of effort and hard work will become outdated. The overall progress of the country has become an issue of secondary importance.
[ . . . ]
This should alarm Chinese society. The spirit of hard work and effort must not be replaced by unrealistic welfarism.
Perhaps I’m simply reading this language through my American political lens, but this sounds like something a Ronald Reagan disciple would say. The phrases “maximizing benefits,” “spirit of hard work and effort,” and “unrealistic welfarism” really leap out.
I watched some of the election coverage from the U.S., and some of the Republican commentators, lamenting the results, were depressed that Americans seemed to be in favor of redistribution of wealth, deficit financing, and so on.
Perhaps Fox News is playing in the break room over at Global Times?
Note that the purpose of the Op/Ed was to show the fundamental problems of the American political system in order to gin up support for how things are run over here in China. That’s the job of a nationalist publication, so this makes perfect sense. I can also understand that all of the China bashing during the campaign, which was generally a populist message, does complicate the usual right/left political calculation.
However, if the author of this piece really wanted to launch an effective critique, doing so from the left might have been more effective (I could have given them a top ten list of progressive beefs with the current administration to start) than copying Karl Rove’s crib sheet. Most of the world’s population remains firmly to the political left of the United States, but the Global Times, from “Red” China, attacks from the right? Say it ain’t so.
I mean, this still is a Communist country, isn’t it? Wait, don’t answer that. Let me continue enjoying the fantasy.