Archive for September 17th, 2008
I was sitting on the couch for a year and a half, enjoying the spectacle that is 21st century U.S. Presidential politics. I obsessively watched at least some of the debates during the primary, cheering the Democrats and cursing the GOP. I was slow to accept Obama, but now I’m convinced he is the best politician I have ever seen operate. I believe he will win, though he is lucky to have a buffoon for an opponent.
So, like I said, I was enjoying the rich pageantry of the election here in the states, anxiously waiting for election night catharsis when my fellow Canadians decided to distract me with an election of their own.
So what am I sposed to do now; spend twice as much time on the internet, gobbling scraps of election info from news sites and bloggers in two countries? Yep, that’s what I’m doing.
I often compare and contrast aspects of the two countries I have split my ragged life between. Similarities abound, but the differences are legion, if often subtle.
Take electoral politics for example. The two cultures could not be more starkly dissimilar in the ways they elect their leaders (though the policy differences aren’t as large as many would prefer).
As noted earlier, Americans take years to elect a President. The primaries began in January of this year of course, but the campaigns began at the end of 2006.
The current Canadian election was called on September 7 and will be held on October 14 — an election campaign of 37 days, compared to the two year campaign that will elect President Obama.
In the U.S. there are two parties. Yes, I know, there are several other parties and candidates that will be on the ballots of most states, but they are given no chance to really compete, and that’s just the way the Democrats and Republicans like it.
Canada has four parties that had seats in the recently dissolved House of Commons, and another that at least has a chance to win at least one or two. Five Parties will be yelling at each other in the big TV debate. Two will swap snappy one liners in the U.S. Presidential debate.
Gotta admit, the American debate will be easier to follow.
Americans elect everything from President to Dog Catcher on the same day with the same ballot and it takes days to count the votes (if they ever get counted at all — right Diebold?).
Canadians mark one ballot WITH A PENCIL and it takes no more than 2 hours to declare a winner.
Do Canadians enjoy a higher standard of living (blame the WHO, not me) complete with free medical care as a result of their political system. I believe so. More parties can seriously compete for power, bring to the table more ideas for solutions to problems.
In the U.S. we all know what the problems are, and there are many ideas for solutions, but a sclerotic political system has created gridlock, and problems are not effectively addressed. That is what the 2008 U.S. election is really about, but the same system that elects him will make things very difficult for President Obama.