Tag Archives: Canada

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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I’ve been asked often if I will become an American citizen.  I used to just answer no.  I will always be Canadian, but as time goes by things become more complicated.  JD yells out “I see an Amercan flag!!!”  EVERY time he sees one.  Which is pretty often.  This week he has insisted we “say hurray for the American flag” every time he sees one.  The other day he pronounced, “Mom know what I’m finking?  I’m finking we should say a prayer for de Amercan flag.”  So we did.  Then I was commanded to sing a song about the flag.  So I did.  This is all out of the blue and unprompted.  Apparently he’s a naturally patriotic kid, which is fantastic and as it should be.  I’ve always said that I may be Canadian but I’m raising Americans (except when it comes to hockey or curling; they’re welcome to cheer for an American team when they’re ready to move out).  Love of country is very important to me.  In that spirit I even gamely teach them to pronounce Z all wrong.  As I raise my little Americans and support my American military husband and hang out with my American friends talking about American issues I do find myself thinking that maybe I would like to be a full voting member of society.  Then I go for a visit back home.  And that’s the thing.  Canada is still home.  Getting back there for me is much like anybody would feel upon returning to their house after a long time away.  How relaxing to get home and feel that comfortable sense of knowing exactly where everything is and how everything works.  Some things about your house may irritate you.  Or you may come home, as we did this week, and find a pipe has burst and there’s water in all the ducts and mold in the pantry and you need some specialist to come test everything and another to rip out the drywall and remodel a bit.  So home’s not perfect.  But it’s home.   If being in Canada is like being at my house, being in the US is much like being at my in-laws’.  I’m made welcome.  I love being there.  I don’t quite get how everything works.  There will always be allusions to family history I don’t get.  There will always be things they do differently from what I’m used to.  The more often I visit, the longer I stay, the more comfortable I become.  So maybe one day I’ll feel like becoming a citizen.   When Canadians do something stupid I say “we” in talking about the national character.  When Americans do something stupid I say “you”.  Maybe when I’m ready to own the flooded ducts  and mold here like I am those of my own country, I’ll take an oath.

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Filed under Canadiana, The Continuing Adventures of JD and The Fierce Bad Rabbit