In what seems to be on the way to a developing habit, I once again found myself outside of the USA during a political season and was able to watch the antics unfold against the background of a different culture. For those who have never had the opportunity to do so, it is quite an interesting experience to turn on the TV and see the “critically important” headlines of the campaign trails reduced to a 10 second voiced-over or subtitled filler piece before the local news goes to commercials, or to watch a 30 minute analyis of the situation from the perspective of someone trying to make sense of it from outside.
I believe that most US citizen don’t realize that the political campaigns attract any attention outside of the US; they usually don’t hear anything about Canadian or Mexican campaigns, so why would they hear about ours? What is lost in this is that the political season in the US does attract lots of attention from the rest of the world for a variety of reasons, among which many businesses and governments are interested due to the weight and momentum that the US still manages to carry in the global economy, and on an individual level it can be one of the most entertaining reality shows going when you do not have a personal stake in it (which does raise an interesting idea – perhaps we should follow the reality show format and have the candidates actually do something before voting them on or off).
One of the things that sticks out from watching the season unfold is that lots of people spend lots of time pointing out what is wrong with America. I think a more constructive approach would be to focus on what is right.
• What is right with “winner takes all” representation where in a 50.1 / 49.9 split 49.9% of the population has no voice?
• What is right with party line voting?
• What is right with media being controlled by a handful of companies?
• What is right with a population that allows others to make their opinions for them?
• What is right with “law” and “justice” not being one and the same?
• What is right when a nation of immigrants closes it’s doors to immigration?
• What is right when diplomacy is no longer a prerequisite for being a diplomat?
• What is right when compromise is seen as a weakness rathar than a strength?
• What is right with effective access to legislators being through hired lobbyists?
• What is right with campaigns focusing on making other candidates look bad rather than highlighting what their candidate has demonstrated that is relevant to the position?
• What is right with food regulations that favor megacompanies over local producers?
• What is right about an energy policy based on insuring profit rather than improving efficiency?
• What is right about demanding others follow an agreed set of international laws but then ignoring them ourselves?
• What is right about health care based on insurance companies making profits rather than health care being delivered to those needing it?
• What is right about pushing “freedom” on other countries at gunpoint but not allowing your own citizens to travel to certain countries?
• What is right with tax codes that tax the results of individual labor more than financial investment?
• What is right with states selling taxpayer funded infrastructure to the highest bidder, who then charges taxpayers to use what they already paid for?
• What is right with “separation of church and state” but repeatedly creating and defending legislation based on precepts of specific religions?
• What is right with using more than is required – and demanding that others let you?
• What is right with cutting state funding to public schools while at the same time adding state funding to private schools?