Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Thoughts On A Canadian Election

Election in Canada on Monday. I woke up to see the results and found myself staring at a full page picture of Osama Bin Laden’s face.

I didn’t even remember him being on the ballot.

The lesson: when you’re glancing at the front pages of newspapers, remember to check the date.

Thoughts on the election proper:

--The Conservatives--who won--ran a good front-runner campaign, that is to say, they managed not to beat themselves by saying or doing anything stupid. They also went negative a lot, so I knew who they were against, but I didn’t have an idea what they stood for. That strategy doesn't do much to win over new or undecided voters (It sure didn’t on me), but if you’re already in the lead, it’s probably the safe bet.

And it worked.

--The New Democratic Party came in a very respectable second place in a classic Life Imitates Pro-Wrestling Scenario, decisively beating a veteran former champion with name recognition (the Liberals) and unexpectedly taking the champion to the limit and establishing themselves in the voters‘ minds as a legitimate contender. If they can stay over for the next few years, the rematch should draw big money (and votes). I also thought they ran a great campaign.

In fact, they seemed to be the only people running a campaign.

Maybe it’s the circles I travel in, but I heard nothing much from the Conservatives (possibly deliberately, as they were playing not to lose). But I heard nothing from the Liberal Party either (the big losers this election, along with the Bloc Quebecois which was nearly wiped out).

But the NDP were professional, they were glitzy, and most of all, they were everywhere. The internet. Print media. Phone calls. Mail-outs.

Now as an NDP supporter (this election, at least), I was happy to see it and see them do well, but since I am the type of man who cannot resist inspecting the gift horse’s dental work, I can’t help but wonder about one thing.

And that one thing is money.

How was it that the NDP campaign was so much more visible than the other parties? Sure, maybe the Conservatives were deliberately keeping a low profile, but what about the Liberals? They were in no better political shape than the New Democrats going into this election and yet I never saw anything from them. Did they just give up on Alberta?

I can’t figure it out. I just keep thinking about money.

I’ll be curious to see the fundraising numbers for the political parties and how much each spent over the course of the campaign.

-The third thing I think about is the disappearance of the Liberals and the Bloc. The lion’s share of Parliament is divided between the right-wing (and rightier all the time, it seems) Conservatives and the even-leftier-than-the-Liberals NDP.

That’s a strong ideological split. I’m hoping that’s just the way the election played out and not a sign of things to come. A lot of the American political blogs I follow have devolved to people parroting party lines past one another, demonizing and blaming the other side and worrying about winning vs. losing.

I would hate to see that divisiveness take hold here. It’s nice to have people who agree with us, and it’s nice to have someone to blame for our troubles, but those things alone wouldn’t bring happiness and prosperity to the night manager of an Olive Garden, let alone a country.

I think we sometimes overestimate how much power the “people in power” actually have and underestimate our own. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from listening to my 68 year old gold-panning friend’s geology lessons on cross-country drives it’s that time and change are inexorable. Sometimes it happens quickly. sometimes it happens slowly. It always happens though, even if it doesn’t happen when we want it or how we expected it. Actions have consequences and just because you don’t see them or they don‘t show up right away, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Some days I find that idea frightening. Other days it gives me hope. But it never fails to motivate me.

Regardless of our political affiliation and whether or not those people are in power or not there is always something we can do. We can raise funds, write letters, make phone calls.

More importantly, we can choose the way we live. We can choose the way we treat others--family and friends, strangers, and yes, even those we dislike or who disagree with us. We can forgive ourselves and others, let go of resentments, and do the best we can with the gifts and temperament we were given to reach our potential, whatever that may be and however others might choose to judge us.

In short, we can be the best people we know how. It’s all we have the power to do, but in doing that,, we can accomplish a lot of great things along the way.

Oh. And check the dates on those newspapers.

You never know.

Dan's writing on Dating and relationships can be found at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com

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1 comment:

Susie Rosso Wolf said...


Susie Rosso Wolf