(photo borrowed from Globe & Mail, courtesy of AP images)
I know I’m stepping on egg shells here. One of life’s best rules is to never discuss race, religion or politics with people you don’t know. However, being that I studied political science and international relations in university, and being that I’m a dedicated agnostic, I’ve typically ignored that rule. Not in spite, rather in stead.
It’s my opinion that, as a Canadian, many of us up here are suffering a wee little bit of US Election envy. Not that we’re interested in having another election, but that’s kind of my point. We don’t want another election any time soon because we don’t have any interesting or viable options to choose from. The US is gleaming under the bright light of international attention in part because of their candidates – all strong, seasoned and influential politicians, who are masters of their domain. McCain is a fortunate benefactor of the best spin doctoring, marketing and communications machine that money can buy, while Hillary is the next best thing to American royalty, and Barack Obama is truly one of the most polished and charismatic individuals I have ever thought existed. Who wouldn’t want to buy front row tickets to see these all-stars pitted against one another for the title of undisputed leader of the western world?
On the opposite side of the coin, we in Canada have a ragged bunch of wanna-be’s who for the most part don’t know the front from the back of a television camera, and find it more important to suck at both official languages than show proficiency at either one individually. If we had guaranteed dates for elections, perhaps the parties could prepare more capable candidates. At least the ruling party couldn’t be rendered inept by an opposition ready to pounce, or as it’s working out right now, the ruling party foaming at the mouth while waiting for the opposition to decide whether or not to push the ‘detonate’ button rather than the ‘disarm’ button when voting on a bill in the House of Commons. We should let whoever wins the election have a guaranteed 4 years to gain momentum or lose the public’s trust, and then have a specific date in mind from which to lobby and campaign all over again. That would make each election more important to win, and more important to vote in, because there wouldn’t be the hanging cloud of another election on the horizon. But I digress…
I’d really like Obama to win the Democratic nomination and then the US election. Not very often do we find an idealist so confident and popular that they inspire a winning majority of the electorate. Too often nowadays it’s a politics of fear that wins elections, rather than a politics of possibility; scaring people into relegating to the lowest common denominator instead of celebrating the most promising individual. Voting for safety instead of voting for ideas. I say, put Obama in there, regardless of his inexperience (if that’s even valid) and let’s see what he can do.
And isn’t it really cool that a non-white man is running against a woman? How progressive is that! Unfortunately, in my cynical view, this is also a detriment to the success of either democrat, as it is my belief that the election will poignantly show just how conservative much of the US still is. Good luck getting many votes for either Clinton or Obama in the southern states and the bible belt. Therefore, I expect that if the democrats win the election, it won’t be by much. The source of my cynicism? Hey, Bush won the last election, and the one before that. Nothing about the way Americans vote surprises me anymore.
I sincerely hope this remains an election based on policy, ideas, and integrity, instead of an election based on race, gender, and mud-slinging. I doubt it will stay clean, but it’s been pretty good so far. Signs are, however, that it is deteriorating, and I suppose it was really only a matter of time.
I’d advise any Americans reading this to ensure you get yourself and someone you care about out to vote in November. If you’re an active Democrat, go out and vote in your primary if it’s not too late. Do yourselves a favor, and meanwhile fulfill the vicarious dreams of all Canadians by voting in someone worth voting for, and get yourselves back on track. And sorry about the NAFTA thing.