A Canuck’s take on elections



Before the end of election season, commercial breaks were beginning to become a tad much for my liking.

In the span of one minute, I learned that Jack Conway and Rand Paul were both right and wrong for the state of Kentucky, that candidate X was socialist scum, while candidate Y seemed like a good American because he/she shook a lot of old people’s hands and made a baby smile in a family-owned hardware store.

These political commercials usually focus on an opponent’s perceived personal flaws and sound bytes rather than actual issues. After all, who needs to focus on issues when candidate X is acting like such a socialist? Just act like less of a socialist than candidate X and people will vote for you.

I question the effectiveness of these mudslinging and seemingly irrelevant commercials during campaign season, especially considering the two-party system that is employed in America.

It’s like going to Baskin Robbins only to arrive and find two flavors to choose from instead of 31. Still, you’ve decided to put pants on this day, you’ve waited in line and so you’re most likely going to get ice cream. Likewise, if you’re keen on voting, you’ll most likely vote for either the Republican or Democratic candidate, whether you really like them or not, because options are limited.

Needless to say, I prefer the parliamentary system found in Canada, among other countries, because of the broader range of political parties to choose from (four major parties in Canada) and also because the individual is less valued during campaigns.

The Canadian parliament consists of two houses, just like you, Congress! The Canadian Senate is appointed by the Queen of England’s representative, the governor general, because I don’t think we want to cause a fuss with England, which was nice enough to grant Canada independence after my people patiently waited for it (unlike a certain neighbor to the south…).

However, the Canadian House of Commons is elected by the populace, which votes for parties rather than individuals. So during a federal election, the leader of the political party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons becomes prime minister (aka president).

In a parliamentary system, campaigns are also much shorter partly because elections can be called quite abruptly, whereas every two years in the U.S. it’s going to be a big election day on the national level.

With election dates set so far in advance, it seems the hardest part about being a member of Congress is not helping run the country, but creating attention-grabbing commercials that will help you retain your job.

Bipartisanship becomes difficult also, following political slugfests when you’ve slammed your opponent and the ideologies he or she shares with his or her political party.

In short, American political campaigns are all a tad much for my liking. I’m glad I can’t vote.