American elections as seen by one Canadian

There are a couple things that really, really remind me that I’m Canadian and not American.  One is hockey.  One is how my heart leaps for joy when I hear someone say about or sorry just like me, or at least like I used to.  Another good reason to watch hockey.   One is how the news in general is reported here vs on Canadian news programs.  I miss Peter Mansbridge.  Heck I miss just about any Canadian anchor or reporter… Ian Hanomansing you handsome devil.  But the number one thing that makes me feel Canadian is how mind boggled I am by the structure of American politics.  Now I’m not saying anything about which country is better or worse, but here are a few contrasts that give me a head ache.  This will come off as a rant for sure but honestly if somebody can explain some of it I’d love to understand.

If the Canadian government proposes a budget and it is voted down, parliament is dissolved and you’ve got to hold an election.  There’s some nuance here but that’s the basic layout.  When was the last time the US had an actual budget?  It was a while ago.  That’s weird.

When Canadians hold an election, it goes something like this.  An election is declared.  That’s about a month or two before the election is held.  Usually you see it coming because there must be a federal election every four years but sometimes (see above) it’s more often and sometimes a government will jump the gun a little on the election date if they think waiting til the absolute limit would give them a worse shot at winning.  But the time from declaration to holding it is about that.  Then everybody goes out and campaigns wildly for a month and then we vote and then we’re done.  Now I realise our system is also easier to run that way because don’t have a presidential, senate and representative election.  We don’t pick prime ministerial candidates, the parties pick their heads in their own time and then that head of party is the de facto prime ministerial candidate for them when an election rolls around.  Not saying that could or should happen here but YEESH do you even remember when this Republican primary started?  Are we not all horribly sick of them, even, frankly, of our own candidate by the time it’s all over with?  And where’s the time to actually govern when you’re constantly campaigning?  Oh and another thing, how can you be running all over the place campaigning when you have an actual job in government?  Who’s running Texas while Rick Perry is running for president?  Who did Obama’s senate work THE ENTIRE TIME HE WAS ELECTED since he was running pretty much that whole time?  And to do all this costs millions upon millions of dollars.  Does anybody notice the numbers they toss around about how much was spent on ads per state per candidate?  Meanwhile the nation is bleeding red ink…  There has GOT to be a way to curtail this thing.  I think it’s a huge part of voter disinterest and low turnouts.  Everyone’s over it.  (Can I just say as a nation we were totally amused in a totally juvenile way when we declared our election AFTER you had yours, ran the whole campaign and still ended up with a result before you did.  Yeah it’s not classy, but it is human. 🙂 )

And then when finally FINALLY it’s time to start voting do you all head out to the polls on one day and get it done?  No, no, every state votes, in totally different ways, at totally different times.  Oh and some states you win all the delegates and some you parcel them out.  Sooo that seems not exactly fair.  And this isn’t seen as a bad thing at all.  In fact, when states start moving their dates around there’s a big kerfuffle that Iowa needs to go first and the New Hampshire and Florida how dare you get uppity and throw off the rythm, you get some bad seats at the convention.  Huh?  Bad seats at the…ok that’s not important… point is, when I think of voting I think of everybody picking their guy and voting and there’s a reporting black out on returns until everybody has marked their x and THEN we read the results.  How can it be a good thing to know the results from other places and have that sway votes based on factors not at all to do with candidates’ merits but only to do with perceived electability, popularity, protest votes etc etc?  What’s the rationale here?  Is it just tradition that doesn’t work anymore or is there an actual legitimate reason that I simply cannot see?

Yup, there you have it, some of the reasons I’m definitely, for good or ill, Canadian still.

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3 Comments

Filed under Canadiana, Uncategorized

3 responses to “American elections as seen by one Canadian

  1. John Janaro

    Haha! It’s the “greatest show on earth”! First of all, these are “primaries” in which the parties select their candidates. They are not really official elections. Then the media creates the circus, which is understandable–given the media’s preoccupations–because this is a big deal. Canada elects its government to take care of some 30 million people. That’s nice. Whereas here, we have an elaborate “American Idol”-type contest every four years to determine who is to become, essentially (let’s face it), the Emperor of the World. The Roman Empire ruled through its army, so it made sense for the army to knock off the Emperor and replace him every few years. America rules through entertainment and media, so it makes sense to pick our Emperors by means of a shameless and tacky media spectacle. There, does that clarify things? ;P

    • Ah now it all makes perfect sense 🙂 Although, I was just thinking it’s a little unfair to compare a much much more populated country to Canada. There’s only so much you can do to simplify when you’re… well you guys.

  2. Theresa

    Well, I’ve lived here my whole life, studied American government and our history and our legal system and all sorts of other interesting related (and unrelated) things, but I don’t understand it any better than you do. Frankly, our political system kind of disgusts me because it strikes me as getting nothing done while wasting huge amounts of time, energy and money!

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