on my semiweekly trips to the gym, I phase out for fifteen to twenty minutes or so watching the closed-captioned news on the TVs as I dutifully jog my heart out on a treadmill. last month it was olympics, olympics, olympics, which I enjoy for sure, but this month it’s all elections, elections, elections. bleah. and this year, we may very well have federal elections in Canada AND the United States at about the same time, which (as far as I can remember) doesn’t happen very often. Canadian elections I’ve always watched somewhat in the spirit of a deranged game; they’re short, vicious, and get your adrenaline going. American elections I watch more in the spirit of a slow-motion train wreck. Why anyone would want to spend over a year going through so many motions, procedures and ceremony to elect their leadership invariably elicits a reaction of horror and awe from me. In reality, though, either system has such glaring flaws that I find it genuinely difficult to participate — and impossible to involve myself — in election mania in any meaningful form.

First off, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the partisan political system really, or how anyone could claim that a “party” can ever truly represent them. God gave to humanity the gift of a diversity of views — how do they suppose that aligning oneself with or subscribing to the ideals of a “party” will advance the process of exchanging such views? Instead, all it does is obscure the truth and make every problem more difficult to solve, because people are too busy watching their backs, toeing party lines instead of being open, honest and frank. Second off, why are we to vote only for the rich and lucky ones who can pony up the most cash to pay for a glitzy campaign? Why can’t we vote for those people who, in our hearts, we truly believe deserve the station of servitude to their country, who show forth actual merit, virtue, character and solid worth? Why narrow the field to only a select few? Third, if our goal is to promote a unified nation, what is the point of such an adversarial system, both in the process of electioneering and campaigning, and within government itself? Why do we have to listen to week after week of pundits on Side A slam the pundits on side B, or the candidates on side B denigrate those on Side A? It’s not pleasant, for Pete’s sake. Why do we have to argue over whose kids are alcoholics, whose are pregnant and who forgot Poland? Unified societies are built upon cooperation and consensus. Why not try those out for a year and leave the bickering behind? If we find that we prefer the bickering afterwards, well, we can always go back.

In short, my impression of the prevailing partisan electoral systems in Canada and the US is that they don’t seem to support human dignity or its unity. To me, all they seem to do is to make problems harder to solve, because those who are elected to serve are too busy dealing with matters of the human ego. And I’m afraid that’s enough rambling for now; it’s getting late. Got more TV to watch at the gym tomorrow. As usual, I’d love to hear your comments.

6 thoughts on “electioneering

  1. I hear you!
    I’ve decided to stop watching the news altogether until these elections are over, because they dominate the broadcasting to such an extent. It’s so easy to take this political system for granted, and assume that it is simply how it has to be. But whenever I try to think about it objectively, the insanity really hits me. Why is the issue of governance forced into this strange narrative of “winning”? The American system is particularly illustrative of the problem of party politics, I think, because the country is so evenly divided in its support for the two parties at almost every election. The bitterness and, frankly, hatred between the two camps reaches a fever pitch as the election nears, so that by the time the new guy is sworn into office he has half the country at his back, and the other half opposed to him. This translates to a government whose opposition/minority party does everything it can to impede the agenda of the ruling party. I think it might have been Lincoln who said that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Well it might be able to stand for a while, but it certainly can’t get anything useful done.

    Humanity is ill served by a system that puts “winning the election” so far ahead of actually governing the country. Hec, the politicians, many of whom I feel genuinely sorry for, are ill served by a system that forces them to become vicious attack dogs and put the party line ahead of their constituents’ concerns or their own conscience. How hard to remain honest in such a system! So hard, in fact, that now we have come to accept that our democratic governments WILL lie to us, and we only get mad when they do it badly so we have to find out.

    Every election makes me feel the urgency of developing our Baha’i communities, so that the Administrative Order of Baha’u’llah can likewise grow and develop towards becoming a viable alternative to the current political system. At the moment, the institutions are still in their infancy in many ways, I believe; but the sooner they are ready to take a leading and highly visible role in the public life of our communities at large, the better. Then the contrast will be like night and day.

  2. A succinct summary of American politics, my friend.

    While I vote every election year, I can see the American two-party system neatly polarizing it’s members – us vs. them. For the entire campaign it’s demonize, demonize, demonize. and then afterwards there’s an insincere stab at healing.

    I don’t have any fixes for it though.

  3. You know, it’s interesting reading other people’s tales of going to the gym. Me personally? I get so frustrated when they put Bill O’Reilly’s show on. Why can’t they show just basic music videos, I wonder?

  4. First of all joging is a very good exercise and it is good for health too.Second thing election is a very hard thing to do and understand it it is to tricky. lolwut

  5. I think if the United States were to adopt more ideas from how Canada conducts governmental business (especially in the legislative branch), then we would get more accomplished. I mean they have a multitude of parties to pick from (not 2 like in the states). There is also that situation that they are in the midst of where they literally shut down the government because they brought forth a bill that didn’t get passed: From the Majority party! That never happens in government, but it did this year! Just goes to show how efficient it is compared to how it happens south of the great north’s border.

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