The politics of politics

As Americans are gearing up to vote tomorrow for their president, the rest of the world sits back and watches as the outcome could be either of the two candidates. For most of the campaign, the polls have sat at nearly 50/50 while several polls favoured Romney and several predicted Obama. Meanwhile, political analysts studied and wrote about everything they both said, how they said it, the potential political outcomes of what they say and what it all means. Citizens passionately displayed who they favoured while debating policies and who is better for the job while the entire country is both excited and nervous. Such a feeling extends beyond the border as election fever is heating up Canada too.

I read a post somewhere, I don’t remember where exactly now, about a woman who was telling her mother that she wouldn’t be voting in this election. That in itself doesn’t seem so odd, especially as a Canadian, in a country where the last election received votes from just 61% of the eligible voting population. What struck me as surprising was that she actually had a reason why she didn’t want to vote – because she didn’t feel either candidate was good enough for the job. She mentioned how her mother was so upset she cried at her decision. It reminded me of a girl telling her parents she didn’t want to continue with the family business when she grew up.

Voting in America seems to be tradition and is serious business. Though with such a level of passion, it’s understandable to see why politics are the way they are there. The perceived corruption and issue of money being thrown around. It’s become something on a whole other level of entertainment and a show in itself, but one that affects the outcome of everyone who watches. Like a sporting event or competition, you cheer for the side you want to win and you take the results very seriously.

While this level of passion is admirable, I can’t help wonder why Canadians aren’t as passionate about politics. I suppose you have the fact that our politicians aren’t as interesting. But is it the politicians that are interesting or the media that surround them, portraying them as they do, that gives us incentive to see what they’ll say and do next? Even beyond that, it seems that in Canada, we are indifferent. If we don’t vote, it’s not because we don’t like the candidates but because we don’t care enough to not like the candidates, what they do has no effect on us and that politics is boring.

It is this type of thinking that brings Canada to where it is today. I won’t slump the job of Prime Minister Harper but I’ve met very few people that like him yet he still won the last election with a majority of the vote. One of the biggest problems with Canada I’ve seen in recent years is that they like to sit back and just let things happen. A post I saw on a friend of mine’s Facebook a month or so ago questioned what it would take for Canadians to actually act on something. Our apathy is pretty scary when you get down to it. Some of things that the Harper government has done recently is pretty questionable and I’m not even getting down into his actual government policies but rather how he chooses to present himself to the citizens of Canada. Avoiding media and essentially hiding from the public. Yet few question why and we allow him to do it. What’s he hiding? I have my opinion on the Occupy movement and somewhat of an opinion on the student protests in Montreal but those are two recent situations where protests, as unpopular as the action itself is, attempted to do something. It’s a way to question the people in charge and demand answers, even if it doesn’t bring about the change you want.

With as many problems as America has, I think their passion in politics might be one of the things they have up on Canada – even if a lot of that passion is for the wrong reasons. As long as people are interested enough to educate themselves and get out to vote, and attempt to exercise their democracy, at least we can let our future in many areas of our lives lie in the hands of the people elected in and know that it is truly the choice of the people.

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