- Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama
As a follower of Canadian politics it’s easy to look at what is going on south of the border and be amazed at the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the election of the US President.
To be honest, it never seems to stop. Once the election is over there is intense review and scrutiny of the new president and the former challenger and that occurs daily, right through milestones like “First 100 Days in Office” to “First year as President” and continues through the halfway term as President and then it all starts all over again as the leaders gear up for a 2-year run to see who is going to run the country for another 4 years.
During this time you will see and hear opinions and endorsements from news stations, other politicians, celebrities and talk show hots, to name a few. If you’re a democrat, you detest republicans and if you’re a republican, you loathe democrats. It’s so clear, and so in your face that it’s almost like a scripted affair.
So if you find yourself today, the day of the election, still undecided then you should understand that it’s okay. You clearly do not fit into the mold of being either a typical Republican or a Democrat and while it’s wonderful to be open-minded and see things from both sides, it really sucks that you need to make that choice on who to vote for.
Would it not have made your choice so much easier if a politician came out and said something like’ Don’t vote for this guy because his policies don’t make sense because of this (insert actual proof here) or, don’t vote for this guy because he hates kittens. Right now, in Canada and in the US, the leaders are so polished and they say nothing. As a result, especially in the US, news media have to track down and interview other party representatives and hope that they say something controversial, not along party lines, or how they actually see something, in order to have something substantial to report on. The leaders of course, distance themselves from those who made the comments – usually asking them to resign – which starts in motion the typical and expected damage control where the other party concludes that the whole party feels that way and are hiding it, while the party in damage control explain away the comment as if it were uttered by a crazy person.
We also used to vote based on the way the leaders acted – and looked – during debates. We cannot do that nowadays because both parties play the debates so well, it’s become a wasted exercise.
So you’re undecided and have to vote. Here is what you need to know;
President Obama is black. Awesome. But that was so 4-years ago. He’s still black and last time I checked that had absolutely nothing to do with his ability to run a country. He’s an educated human being, the first black president in the history of the United States and a Democrat. He’s also been the president during a horrible global recession, so you cannot judge his record on the economy, because it’s not like here in Canada where after all the meltdowns, Canada was seen as the leading country heading out of the recession. To many, what happened in Canada was expected given that the Prime Minister is a Conservative, and Conservative’s are better with money than Democrats are. Sorry. It’s true.
Now, I like Obama for what he did – getting elected, fighting racism, much like I like Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who also seems like a really cool guy. They’re both a little teflon in their own right. When they talk, people listen. They are kind, compassionate and appear understanding. When you accuse them of something underhanded, while they explain, you feel sorry for them and it’s easy to look poorly at their opposition.
In Ontario, that’s not hard considering Conservative leader Tim Hudak doesn’t exactly give you that warm fuzzy feeling when you look at or listen to him. He’s not all that compassionate and he doesn’t strike you as a financial wizard. He’s blah, but he may be an absolute genius and we just don’t know it yet. Ontarians are waiting for the real Timmy Hudak to break out of his shell, otherwise, the Ontario PC’s are going to need a new figurehead to push their message, and fast. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has that charisma, but she’s playing for the wrong team, and while Quebeckers may have been fooled into voting for Jack Layton’s NDP, Ontarians will never fall into that same mistake of voting in a NDP government into this have-not province. We have recent experiences to fall back on. It’s not so clear in the US, however.
Back to the US.
The opposition for Obama comes in the form of a gentleman named, Mitt Romney who is a Republican. Voting for him does not mean you hate black people, nor does it mean that you believe in Pro Life or no-taxes for the super-wealthy or any other tags that the left-wing media like to throw at those on the right. What it means is that you are taking an open-minded look at a candidate who amassed considerable personal wealth while a citizen of the country you are voting in. Romney is a businessman. A very successful businessman who knows how to work with people, with suppliers, and more importantly, he knows how to spend money wisely and where he should and can cut costs. That experience is invaluable when faced with near crippling debt, I would think.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is also a very successful businessman and having all that knowledge and ability in your back pocket helps, especially in times of recession, when you need to look at the country (or city) as a giant organization, which is what it is. You cannot discount that experience and success. Sure, Ford is quite rough around the edges, but common sense tells me, and told many voters in the last election, that when times are tough and there is less money floating in the economy that spending more of it just does not make sense.
American’s have lots of needs heading into the next four years and the next leader has to deliver. They need jobs, they need infrastructure and they need to figure out if bankrupting their country to flex their international muscles is worth it right now. Americans need to be better educated and Obama knows that. He wants to hire more math teachers and bring up the collective math knowledge of Americans. Awesome. I also agree with a universal health care system – whatever form it takes on doesn’t matter – so long as finally those Americans who have been left behind, and those areas in the US which have been left behind are brought along with it.
I also feel, however, that there are parts of the US which seem so far behind from the rest of the world, and that is either in their views on equality of all people or straight out accepted racism towards “minorities” and that has got to be eradicated in this President’s term, but doesn’t get enough press. Geographically, areas, destroyed by the economy – and Detroit comes to mind – has to be propped up by the government so those citizens have a chance to succeed. In Canada the government tends to prop up delicate economies or regions by placing government offices there and hiring locals to perform government jobs. The US needs more of that.
All in all, it’s up to you and your political views. If you believe government’s role is to help those who are unable to help themselves, then you are going to vote for the Democrats and Obama gets a second term. If, however, you feel the government is mismanaging your tax dollars and you want them to do a better job of that, then you are going to turn towards Romney and give him your vote. But at the end of the day, it’s not the leader you are voting for, nor the colour of their skin, or who they are married to, or which state them come from.
If, on the other hand, you are casting your vote based on colour, state, looks, or anything superficial – and that’s okay too – because you are getting out there and voting… It’s your democratic right.
If you don’t vote, you cannot bitch about the outcome.