Canadian vs. American Politics: Interesting like a Car Crash
Anybody who has talked to me for more than five minutes knows that I’m pretty damn obsessed with American politics. It’s a scratch that I itch essentially every day by watching The Rachel Maddow show (who my girlfriend jokes is my lesbian girlfriend) and The Lawrence O’Donnell show. Both of them are screamingly left wing in the parallel universe of American politics, but I find them to be pretty damn centrist in their messaging. At any rate, the fact that I watch them so faithfully has more to do with the state of American politics in 2011 than anything else.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t been keeping up with Canadian politics as well, but that has been stuck in this perpetual ‘pre-election’ nonsense. Harper has been divining the polls and knows he is pretty much guaranteed a majority in the next election, which will probably occur in May. He’s done some deliciously Orwellian things like try to change the official “Government of Canada” letterhead into the blatantly partisan “Harper Government”, or needlessly screw with the long form census in order to piss on statisticians and demographically important information. At this point in the 5 year regime, Harper and his meticulously picked cronies are able to do pretty much whatever they want, including suspending our democracy not once, but twice because the opposition parties are so ridiculously incompetent that they can’t even organize themselves enough to , you know, oppose anything. So Harper continues without challenge, bringing in inexcusable minimum sentencing on drug charges, dropping billions of bucks on new jetfighters without a bidding process, and unapologetically breaking elections Canada law in a huge ‘in-and-out’ scheme. To name a few. To his credit (what little credit is due), he has continued in public works spending, which is decidedly socialistic in nature.
But, the unwritten rule of Canadian politics is that “Canadians hate an election”. Both Harper and the opposition knows that whomever calls the election first will be punished at the polls, which is why Harper has been essentially goading the opposition with American style attack ads to provoke them into calling an election. It’s delicious that Harper wraps himself in the Canadian flag while simultaneously pushing for more American style policies like namely corporate tax breaks and Faux-News style propaganda. The Conservative party base is the oil patch and Southern Ontario tv-fed suburbanites like the drones that elected Rob “War of the Cars” Ford to Mayor of Toronto. That boorish asshole has succinctly demonstrated the viability of America style “anti-elitism” which plays so well in the suburbs.
That brings me to my ongoing obsession with American politics. Since the 2010 midterm elections, the new republican majority in the house has been an incredibly duplicitous charade of mind-bogglingly hypocritical politic decisions. Let us review: The number 1 priority of these conservatives was the “Paris Hilton” tax cut, which will cost America’s economy an additional 700 billion dollars of deficit spending per year, while simultaneously delivering average savings of over one hundred thousand bucks to people with a million bucks or more. It was so important that every elected republican in the Senate was willing to defund the military in order to extort Obama and the American taxpayer I guess those multi-billionare elites like the Koch Brothers who already own the plurality of all wealth in the United States really get what they pay for with their millions of dollars of anonymous attack ads totaling some 87 million bucks. With that out of the way, John “Cry-me-a-river” Boehner was free to focus on jobs. To that end, he announced (surprise) a tax-cut filled budget which would kill approximately 700,000 jobs! When questioned on the job-reducing aspect of his job ‘creating’ bill, he remarked “So be it“. Stay Classy, Boehner.
With his agenda to drive America back into the ditch by destroying the livelyhood of thousands of families complete, Boehner continued his attack on the American people by allowing various draconian anti-abortion bills up for voting. Some of them would literally allow hospitals to turn dying women away from critical care if assistance required them to perform an abortion, and others redefined rape to effectively allow non-violent abuse to not count. That’s right, America- GOP 2011 doesn’t want your daughter to have the option to terminate the pregnancy if she was drugged and raped, even if she’ll die as a result of the pregnancy. Republicans are also evidently pro-cancer, as they voted to defund Planned Parenthood, a service which screens millions of women for cancers, not to mention provides important information for people who live in one of the ‘abstinence only’ regions of America. Never mind all the workers, nurses and staff that work there, or the countless of millions of dollars saved in avoided health complications.
The GOP, practically by definition, is the party that will work whenever possible to screw over the little guy by standing up for billionares. How else could you explain Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker’s refusal to negotiate with public unions, even when they have given into all of his demands which would allow him to balance his self-sabotaged budget. This is the same Scott Walker who doesn’t have time to negotiate with Union leaders, but could give a 20 minute call to someone he thought was campaign contributor and billionare David Koch. The American people do not agree with his duplicitous bullshit, with clear majorities in Wisconsin indicating their disapproval of his blatant union bashing. There have been tens of thousands of grassroots protestors in the streets and occupying the capital, but nary a peep from the national media, because pro-union narratives do not fit into the american landscape.
It is this theatricality that really keeps me hooked on American politics. While Canadian politics (and all the associated media coverage) is about politics, American politics is more of a slow motion car crash being endlessly dissected by a content-hungry media. That media, which reaches countless millions of Americans, distorts their understanding of the issues and leads to shameful polls indicating that 1 in 5 Americans incorrectly identify the religion of the sitting president. In fact, there are strong pluralities of Americans who wouldn’t mind raising taxes for millionaires, cutting off the billions of dollars in subsidies for oil companies that pollute global waterways, and preserving the rights of unions to exist.
In that particular poll, 36% self identified as conservative and most likely voted Republican, but when asked in plain English about policy issues, majorities actually disagree with the Republican’s current actions in the legislature. Faux News, and other widely viewed cable news programs are playing defense for these con(servative) artists, and are very successful at continuing to distract voters from the actions of legislature so that they keep voting in lobbyists for big buisness. The reality is, Republicans exist to service the needs of a small group of individuals who hold the majority of the money and the power in America, and they use that leverage to dictate the media narrative and win elections. I agree that it sounds like a bad movie plot, but that’s exactly my point.
It reminds me of that joke that’s been going around lately:
A union worker,a non-union worker and their boss are sitting at a table with a dozen cookies on a plate. The boss gets up, takes 11 of the cookies with him and says to the non-union guy: “She wants your cookie”.