After watching a couple of days of the RNC, following hard on the heels of the DNC, it seems to me that the electoral choice for our neighbours to the south is relatively straight-forward. The Republican theme this time around is partisanship and patriotism: the positive version of Bush-the-Younger's "if you're not with us, then you're with the terrorists." It's easily seen: the continuously playing visual image of the stripes part of the stars-and-stripes fluttering on the big screen, the singing of the national anthem wrapped around the Pledge of Allegiance, the music that ranges all the way from country to western, the sneering pot-shots at the Democratic nominee (Giuliani was incredibly juvenile throughout his speech) and the predominant colour scheme in the room of red, white, and blue - with the emphasis on WHITE. And old (the middle name of the GOP).
In contrast, the Democrats staged an incredibly well choreographed convention, with a narrative arc worthy of any historical novelist. The theme of their campaign is unity and bipartisanship, and restoring the U.S. as the property of all Americans, not just those who are privileged, white, and well off in their retirement. Each of the speakers sounded like themselves, bringing their unique perspectives and personal contexts to the exigencies of campaigning. Contrast that with what the Republican nominee for Vice-President served up last evening - something that seemed like microwaved leftovers from the White House speech-writing kitchen, eagerly gobbled up by a convention hall that seemed to have many of the same characteristics of a wild-eyed lynch mob.
So it really seems to be a simple choice: do you vote for separateness, divisiveness and blind patriotism, or cohesiveness, welcoming diversity, and rebuilding? I recently saw a poll that indicated that 66% of Canadians would vote for the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, if we had a vote. But sadly, we don't. Even more sad is the realization that we don't have a leader from any of our political parties with Obama's stature, vision, and true leadership ability to inspire (rather than what passes for leadership these days, namely the ability to dictate and bully).
But come to think of it, in our election we have exactly the same choice: divisiveness and bullying "leadership" with Harper's Conservative Party, or cohesiveness, cooperation and rebuilding with Dion's Liberals (and with due respect to Jack Layton, Elizabeth May and Gilles Duceppe, I'm only mentioning the two with the actual potential to become PM this time around). Unfortunately, 66% of Canadians won't be voting for the latter choice, but close to that amount will likely vote against the former choice. And, come to think of it, the election does come down to the simple choice of what style of leadership we want for our country - divisive and partisan, or inclusive and welcoming. A simple choice, I think.
[Technorati tags: john mccain | barack obama | democrats | republicans | sarah palin | joe biden | stephen harper | stephane dion]