This Canadian is fascinated by the politics of our friends to the South. I don`t pretend to understand the complicated voting process, despite repeated explanations from my American friends. I`m bemused at elections that take months and years rather than six weeks. And I`m amazed at the colourful personalities and characters that walk the politician`s stage. And, yes, I wonder how some got there in the first place. (Not that we don`t ask the same question of politicians in the great white north!)
First of all, a confession….
I`m a huge fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and yes, my political leaning is to the left. I love puns, and his mock head-lines contain some of the smartest and funniest. I shake my head at the ranting nonsense spewed out by some far-right commentators, so I chortle with glee when Stewart shows the absurdity and baselessness of their arguments. While all networks are fair game, he saves his best work for his nemesis – Fox News. Stewart does satire at its best, throwing levity into the heaviness of the daily news while exposing the truth with rapier wit.
But you can laugh at reality for only so long. The sobering reality is an ever-increasing polarization between Republicans and Democrats. For every calm, level-headed politician trying to promote dialogue and compromise, there is another greedily seeking the day`s sound-bite to prove to voters that she or he will not waver from their principles. The current debt ceiling crisis shows the dangers of defiantly digging in your partisan heels. Refusing to work towards a compromise produces a stale-mate. Refusing to dialogue deepens the divisions formed by vitriolic debate.
There are lessons for us all as we watch the drama unfold….