The U.S. Election: Democracy Had It Coming

Greetings all, Steve here, back again. I was going to post something last week, but, like many people lately, I came down with mild death-like symptoms. I went to the doctor and he said that, hypodermically speaking, I should be fine, ouch, so after a few days rest, I’m back in the saddle. Today I’m going to take a break from saying silly things about business and say some silly things about something many people are critically concerned about these days, something that could effect every area of our lives, business and personal: the U.S. presidential election.

Here are my thoughts: It’s insane.

Allow me to elaborate. The United States presidential election is a time-honoured tradition, but like many time-honoured traditions, it’s completely mental. I mean, think about it. Why must the election be held exactly every 4 years and consist of an arcane series of nominations and pre-elections to elect a candidate from one of two parties which are not really that different from each other? Because it’s tradition. Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I mean, it used to be tradition to use left-handed people as test projectiles in catapults. Honest, look it up. They did it all the time. That’s why there are so few left-handed people around. See, you learn something every day.

But times change and perhaps the U.S. election process is in need of an overhaul and it’s something a lot of people are interested in. In recent decades, the U.S. election has elicited about as much interest as a clearance sale at Bagpipe World, but these days it’s on just about everybody’s minds. And you can see why. The United States is beset by problems: The war, the economy, the environment, terrorism and the return of the Spice Girls. Things are getting serious people! And everybody’s concerned about the election, but many people find the process confusing.

So allow me to simplify it. The candidates for both parties square off, a bunch of wealthy middle-aged white guys with strong hairlines and nice teeth, and they compete in a series of primaries, which are like small pre-elections, used to weed out the least worthy candidates. The first and most important primary is in Iowa, because it used to be one of the most important and populous states. Like, 250 years ago. While this may seem seem antiquated and illogical, it’s actually an improvement over the original weeding-out process, which involved the candidates squaring off in a butter-churning competition. Honest, look it up.

So, as I say, all the rich, white male candidates square off and the candidate who wins the Iowa primary usually takes an early lead in the overall election. What they do is, they take your total vote tally from the Iowa primary, multiply that by your standing in the California, Washington and New Hampshire primaries, see what zodiac Venus is in, divide the year you were born by your shoe size and then elect you based on how well you play the saxophone. See what I mean? This process is convoluted and makes no sense and you can tell that by watching CNN. All the commentators sit around and discuss with great concern the results of this or that, but nobody ever says why it matters, because nobody has the foggiest idea why the hell it matters. It’s just tradition.

But maybe it’s time for tradition to change and what better year than this year? After all, for all the votes and all the posturing, all the name-calling and butter-churning, the only real question on people’s minds is whether the U.S. will vote for a white male candidate who stubbornly refuses to be white, or one who stubbornly refuses to be male. I guess we’ll see.

But in the meantime, I want to offer some other comparative perspectives from around the world, to show some different approaches to electing a leader. I’m Canadian and we have a very different system here. Instead of the U.S. two-party system, here in Canada, basically anybody can start a political party and since we vote for our local candidates and not for the leader, we can end up pretty much randomly electing whoever happens to be standing there to run the country. And this can be kind of frightening when, given the freedom to create their own political parties, you see the kind of political parties people actually create. We have, and I swear I’m not making any of these up, the Conservative Party (which is keen on big business), The Liberal Party (which is keen on different businesses), The New Democratic or Really Really Liberal Party (which is keen on small business), The Bloc Quebecois (which is keen on breaking up the country), The Green Party (which is keen on trees), The Marijuana Party (which is self-explanatory) and the Sex Party (which would be a great name for a punk band and which is also self-explanatory).

See what I mean? Canadian politics may be a little weird, but at least we’re interesting. And there are many other examples from around the world. Australia is run by a benevolent council of surfers who rule, both politically and in terms of surfing. In Scotland they give it to the person who can throw a telephone pole the farthest and in Italy they give it to somebody new every week. Even in ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy, it was different, much more hands-on and immediate. Candidates would meet in public and engage in a battle of words, hitting each with dictionaries. Honest, look it up.

And none of these systems, crazy though they are, is quite as crazy as the American system, which nobody even understands, with it’s convoluted processes, Supreme Court decisions and hanging chads. They need to get the Sex Party in there, just to shake things up, get everybody to relax a little. But that’s just my opinion.

Well, that was my unsolicited and completely unresearched opinion on American politics. Until next time, keep your pen on the page and watch out for hanging Chads.

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