Alright, so finally, I’m going to explain a little bit about French politics and just how different it is from American politics. I think really this helps explain a lot about the popular opinion in America that is very…dismissive of the French people.
1) There isn’t really an equivalent of the Republican party here. It just straight-up doesn’t exist. The “right” wing of their political spectrum is said to correspond with the Democratic party. Yep, that’s right. Sarkosy would be considered a Democrat in the good ‘ol US of A. And if you go any farther right here you get the facist party. You know, the racist, crazy people. So, sorry Republicans, unless you’re secretly facists, you don’t really exist here. I can see how that would cause some people to write off France.
2) France doesn’t really have much of a standing army. They actually use diplomacy. This is where the French get the reputation for not fighting or being terrible at battle. The simple fact of it is, they don’t want to fight. Especially in Iraq. There’s a huge arab population here that is already very dissatisfied with the French government, so even if France did have a really huge army, they would have faced major political difficulties. Well that and most French didn’t think it was a war worth starting. Which is basically what most Americans think at this point. We’ve been there so long people hardly talk about it any more. And that’s scary.
3) From what I’ve heard, most French people are very content with their social programs. I mean, they pay crazy high taxes, but they get a lot back from the government. There are housing stipends, free healthcare (major plus for them. French people actually have some of the best quality and duration of life largely because of this, walking everywhere and wine), really good homeless and unemployment security systems (like, really really good. Most Americans would balk at how high it is). And really, a lot more too.
4) Last one for now: the French actually have a law that limits expressions of discrimination in writing. That I found interesting. Like, freedom of expression is somewhat bounded, at least in what you can write, especially in newspapers. It’s interesting coming from an American perspective in that aspect because we are so protective of our First Amendment rights that it can actually be very hard to prove libel or things like that. No value statements here, just an interesting point of difference.
So, it’s a very interesting place. Lots of foreign outlook because it’s centrally located, lots of culture, lots of pride.
Interesting tidbit for you: Mitt Romney actually spent a good deal of time in France when he was younger. And speaks French. However, he’s afraid of being associated with such a “socialist” country, so has never brought it up in his campaign, nor has he ever equated Obama with the “socialist” France, because that would inevitably start a discussion about it that isn’t going to help him.
Interesting tidbit. I think it’s silly, but politics gets kindof funny every once in a while.