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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Canadian Politics

I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday and she made a political joke about Stephen Harper that I didn't get without an explanation. While I was very proud of my mother for utilizing political humour, the fact that I missed the joke is a little bit unfortunate and cannot be entirely blamed on my lack of a functioning television with any sort of cable service. After all, I spend an inordinate amount of time trolling the internet and compiling information about American politics (and not just the presidential stuff... I also recognize the names of some of the more prominent members of congress and even some political commentators who have absolutely no power beyond their ability to expound thoughts that people actually pay attention to). Of course, most of my internet time is not expressly political, it is just that time of the four year cycle in which politics intrudes everywhere from science to philosophy to whatever other random stuff I end up reading about. However, I am going off on a tangent. My essential point is that with the Canadian election in less than a week and the American election in about a month, I know vastly more about the state of American politics than I do about Canadian politics.

It pains me to admit it, but I do not think I am going to vote in our election this year. While part of that is apathy and annoyance at the federal government over the fact that, despite requesting voter registration when I filled out my tax form this past spring, I never received my voter registration information (either here in Toronto or at my parents' house in BC which is technically still my permanent address), part of that is also a decision based on my lack of knowledge about the political candidates this year. A portion of my ignorance can be blamed on approaching midterms and assignments (if they really wanted to galvinize young voters, they should have the election in September and not October. I'd be much more willing to take the time to read about politics when midterms aren't fast approaching), but a portion is also the cynical voter apathy that I find very prevalent among young Canadians. It is easy to follow American politics - it is kind of relaxing in a weird, visceral sort of way (like reading trashy fiction). The Republican party is so wildly inappropriate and blatantly ignorant of the constitution that they are horrifyingly fascinating, while even the Democrats (the 'acceptable' party) are really only acceptable because they are 1.) not as crazy as the Republicans and 2.) don't often stand for anything (other than not being as Republican as the Republicans), so cannot really piss anyone off (except for the hardcore Republicans, who are pissed off by them precisely because they aren't properly crazy).

In Canada, there isn't that horrifying state of affairs to make things interesting (which is something I am actually fairly glad about, but at the same time it doesn't keep my eyes glued to the screen in dismay). Anyway, I really should wrap this up, because this whole meandering piece was supposed to eventually work its way around to the question:

Does the American Presidential election end up affecting us to nearly the same degree as our own Canadian federal election, or is that just the complacently ignorant view of someone caught up in the sensationalism of our southern neighbour's political process and simply coasting along with the system without knowing how it actually works?


Anonymous said...

I should think the American election is meaningless in the sense that it does not affect us. American presidents really pay little attention to Canada. It is like having a little sister or brother: one knows it is there but it is of little or no consequence except for that once in a while when one wants something from it.
But American politics is so fascinating because one can get such great detail about the process, etc. It is much easier to track American public opinion than it is Canadian for having a plurality in favour of a Canadian public leader may or may not result in a majority parliament. In some ways we elect a man, the leader of the party, of whom we know little but who will exercise more power than the president of the United States.