Say what you will about the Canadian electoral system, at least it’s better than the American system.
Or maybe it’s not the American system that’s the issue. Maybe it’s the people who are involved with it who create the problems. Maybe they’re the ones responsible for the polarizing approach, the relentless bombardment of attack ads, and the system that often seems like it doesn’t make sense.
Regardless, we should appreciate the fact that our elections are much better.
The U.S. mid-term elections were Tuesday, and thankfully they’re over. Normally mid-term elections are a blip on the international political radar. You’ll get some senate seats that are being contested, you’ll get some intriguing congressional fights, and there’ll be some discussion over who will have control over those two levels once the election is finished.
Voter turnout is usually pretty low as well. After all, the big election race is every four years when the president is elected.
Ever since Donald Trump became the president of the U.S. two years ago, people have been waiting for the mid-term elections, viewing them as almost a referendum on Trump’s presidency. And so there has been lots of attention, not only in the U.S., but among political watchers around the world.
The Democrats took control of Congress, which could make the next two years very interesting. They will provide levels of accountability for Trump that haven’t been there in the past. And for someone like Trump, who seems to loathe accountability, he’s going to find the next two years to be very difficult.
But the Republicans not only kept control of the Senate, they upped their number of seats.
It should be noted that these mid-term elections don’t necessarily mean much when it comes to how Americans will vote in the next presidential election. The Republicans were the victors in the 2010 mid-term elections, but Barack Obama handily defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential vote.
It was also good to see that American interest was much higher in these elections. Voter turnout seemed to be much higher this time around, for both the advanced polls and on election day itself.
At the same time, it’s hard to believe that Americans aren’t turned off of politics by these elections. There has been a steady stream of attack ads for more than a year. The campaigns usually took a nasty tone.
The mid-term elections were the most expensive in U.S. history, thanks to the amount of money that is poured into U.S. politics by third-party sources.
Those who criticize the conduct of Canada’s politicians, particularly at the federal and provincial levels, would likely be appalled at what happens in the U.S. Trump isn’t the only guilty party in the U.S. when it comes to a politician who is lacking in civility.
Politics in the U.S. are far more polarized than they are here. Yes, Trump is part of the problem, but U.S. politics had these problems long before Trump entered the political arena.
Canada’s a more moderate nation, and it shows in our politics. Yes, there are those on the far right and the far left, and you get plenty of attack ads, but taking that hard right-wing or left-wing approach is not the way you are going to get elected in this country, at either the provincial or national level.
A politician like Trump would never get a sniff of the prime minister’s job in Canada. We don’t tolerate antics like that.
(Yes, I’m aware that our current prime minister has had his fair share of gaffes during his three years at the helm of our country, and has embarrassed his country on the international stage, but international perceptions of Trudeau remain much higher than Trump).
And, of course, you have a system in place that prevents somebody from becoming the leader of the country without any experience in public office.
Sure, our system isn’t perfect. Justin Trudeau is our prime minister, so obviously there are flaws. And our senate is still unelected and unaccountable, although at least the current senate has been showing some backbone against the prime minister.
I like our parliamentary system, with the exception of the senate. Most people vote for the party of their choice; others vote for a party because of its leader. Personally, I vote for the candidate who I believe will do the best job of representing my constituency.
Retain the first-past-the-post system. Sorry to the proportional representation crowd, but I still haven’t seen how it properly determines my MP.
And while we’re at it, scrap the senate.
Canadians are now just 11 months away from the next federal election. We get to look forward to frequent election ads during that time, and they won’t all be warm and fuzzy ads. Some of them will take a negative approach, with dark, ominous music in the background.
But at least we can look forward to a better campaign in a better system than the one south of the border.