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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Those who don't learn from history join politics

I used to consider myself apolitical. I guess I'm not. Why?

* I have distinct opinions on the proposed changes in Canada's healthcare system
* I have even more distinct opinions on the current US election
* I think our local mayor, who is 147 year old (or 85, I forget) and mayor for about 25 years at least, is the best politician ever because she actually looks after her constituents and not how she appears in the media. When you're 85, you don't really give a rats ass what you look like anyway, so she's an issues lady and I love her for it.

Being Canadian, however, we represent our politics differently. Many assume that because we're so close to the US border, we're the same as them. Far from it in most regions of the country. We are quieter about our politics. Ever seen the movie Bowling for Columbine? Michael Moore at one point takes a trip to Canada to discuss how our gun laws etc work and says, when he finds that our murder rate is a fraction of a percent of the US, maybe they're different due to what they watch on television. Then he shows a shot of the CBC where an MP (Member of Parliament) says that he will discuss his disagreement with the gentleman involved (whoever that is) and we will sit down to reach an amicable agreement. I know Michael Moore isn't universally revered in the US, but I thought it was an interesting perspective. It's pretty true to form as to how Canadian politics go.

But I think politicians themselves are an odd species. There are the odd ones who really are altruistic, trying to better their neighbour. But I think even the better part of those get sucked in by the power - however negligible - and the prestige that comes with being in the public eye. They don't rise beyond the municipal level unless they master the art of saying what we want to hear without saying anything tangible.

Now American presidential politics is not just a different species, it is a whole different lifeform. I am amazed and astounded at the partisanship and the vitriol that attends these elections. This one has become particular vivid in its attacks, but they have all had them. I think it is in part due to the origin of America: they are a mixture of people who left England to be able to practice their religion without interference or persecution, people who left England to make money in the tobacco farms, people who left the original colonies to make their fortune in the west, people who left other countries to come to the myth of the streets paved with gold. America was founded on people searching to make their mark, strike out on their own, financially, spiritually, geographically. So it would make sense that deep in the American politician's soul is the sense that he not only must make his mark but that he is so entitled to do so he can bulldoze anyone that stands in his way.

Politics is big money. A lot at stake. I don't mean our politicians are any better. Geez no. We've got a multi-billion dollar sponsorship scandal of our own.

I just can't help but watch American politics with a sort of bemused fascination. The end never seems in doubt, but the places the journey takes along the way are forever interesting.

Enough of my babbling. Off to hockey school.


Blogger Cliff said...
What a wonderfully healthy view!

And as much as I disagree with Michael Moore ("much" as in "percentage of alchohol in moonshine" much) he has a point about the effect of TV on crime. We have started on the second or third generation of kids who are trained for hours every day how to shoot and kill people (others may call it "video games", but let's be honest) and yet we stand astonished when our kids grow up and shoot and kill people.

Homer Simpson would be proud.  

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