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Is there a distinct American political culture?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Liberalism and the American people.
  3. The factors that made the United States a fertile land for this liberal culture?
  4. Political behavior which results from the liberal ideology.
  5. Conclusion.

We often assess that some behaviours are ?American? and some ?European?. Doing this, we mean there is a distinct American culture. Does it match for political culture? Political culture could be defined as a set of behaviours and habits towards the political system of one's country. Brian Farrell defines it as the ?Values, believes and attitudes? of one population toward its government . It is partly inspired by the type of government, and it partly determinates the type of government. That's why political culture is the explanation for many phenomena. At first sight, the European democracies and the American one have many common features. They are liberal and democratic regimes, in which the fundamental liberties are promoted. The difference lies in the American liberal political culture. The first part of this essay will focus on the common believes of American people which are the basis of their political culture. Then I will try to give explanations for a liberal culture. The last part will be devoted to the political habits which reveal the specificity of the American culture.

[...] For some people it is a duty or merely a pleasant leisure, others may be personally affected by the news, i.e. social aid, and the American is very eager to get information. This doesn't mean either people have no opinion. But most of time, American citizens don't follow an ideology but have various points of view about each situation. This can lead to vast contradictions, for instance Americans strongly believe in freedom of mind but it didn't prevent the McCarthyist phenomena. [...]


[...] Public opinion is a good example of the specificity of American political culture. In European countries, most people are more or less aware of what is going on politically, and how the governmental system works. It is not the case in the United States. In 1995, a survey revealed that only a third of voting-age people questioned could name their representatives in Congress, and only 60% could give the name of the current Vice-President, who was Al Gore at that time[8]. [...]

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