November 6th, 2002


Political posers and pyrotechnics

I'm taking an interest in today's US mid-term elections, and the BBC have an explanation of the US electoral system.

You might be able to explain this most accurately by just pointing me to some slightly more in-depth site, but could someone quickly explain what the difference is between the function of the House of Representatives and that of the Senate? The BBC says "the Senate must approve treaties agreed to by the president. Senators must also approve the appointment of judges and many government officials" - but is there more to it than that? To whom do the members of the House of Representatives represent? When do presidential cabinet members pay attention to the Senate and when do they pay attention to the House of Representatives?

On a related matter, why do Americans use the adjective "liberal" as an insult? (Of course, this happens in the UK from time to time too, but not nearly so often. Is there any more to this than the fact that the consensus of opinion is broadly rather more right-wing in the US than it is in the UK?)

Oh, and for those interested in British/European politics (*looks north-west*) Norman Tebbit yesterday referred to the in-fighting within the Conservative party as having been caused by "right-wing Trotskyites". I don't know much about Russian politics, but surely that's got to be a contradiction in terms. How might such things as "right-wing Trotskyites" exist?

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