I first gained interest in American politics in 2008 when I was taking my grade 12 history class and my teacher made it a priority to keep us in tune with the US election. It was Obama vs. McCain, and all I knew was that Bush had started two big wars and had driven the US, and the world, into an economic recession that made me worry life was about to get all Salinas-Valley-in-Of-Mice-and-Men. Of course, these things were beginning to affect me as I was at the age where the real world was looming just around the curve. My teacher organized a field trip down to Washington state on election day where our class visited the Republican head quarters and the Democratic head quarters. We got speeches from each side and learned about their ideologies straight from the horses’ mouths. Then, we finished the night at a Democratic Election Party in a hotel conference room. Seeing the excitement over one man, with the election results playing out on a projector screen, was exhilarating.
Flash forward 4 years later and I am more hyped about this election than ever. I am taking a course in American Policy Making, therefore I am actually learning and understanding what the hell is going on in the political circus. I watched every debate, look at polls almost every day, study the election maps, and follow all the internet hilarity surrounding the candidates. I try to keep an open mind, as I think a lot of the problems that got America in this mess stem from people being so damn partisan and stubborn. So I listen to what Romney/Ryan says and I listen to what Obama/Biden says, and I do agree with both camps on certain issues. But it disappoints me that Obama isn’t offering any changes to his administration or policies – as another 4 years like the last 4 might just send the US to the brink. Of course it disappoints me to hear Romney and Ryan would gladly ban abortion, repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and drive a wedge in the movement of gay rights, and women’s rights to boot. I must say I am intrigued to see what Romney would do with the country on the economic side of things – besides sending the country’s social rights back a couple of decades. Sometimes I wish there was a third candidate between the two, offering a moderation of policies.
I get a lot of criticism from my parents about following US politics so closely, yet I generally ignore Canadian politics; my own country. I am as patriotic as the next girl down the street, but I feel like I have the privilege of studying America at a very important time in their history. So much of what they do affects the rest of us. If we lose the US as the world power, that leaves a vacuum for someone to replace them, and that makes me nervous because it certainly won’t be Canada (or any Western country). So if I’m going to be a grandmother one day and my grand-kids are going to ask me what the world was like when I was young, I want to be able to tell them. And if the US isn’t around then like it is now, I want to be able to explain what happened.
So this past summer, I decided to prep for the upcoming season by reading Decision Points by George W. Bush. The book literally kind of fell into my lap as I actually picked it up while at a dinner party. (Yes, I was that guest who was curled up in the corner reading George W. Bush while everyone was enjoying cocktails on the deck of a beach front house on Maui. To say the least, I think George would be happy). But alas, the book was very interesting, obviously. It made me realize the fragility of a country and the importance of a President, Congress, and Senate’s decisions. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Out of many moments in history, many votes, many chances, many bursts of luck, comes one president, one administration, one congress, and one senate. And the power they have…
It’s 2012, but it will soon be history.
What candidate do you agree with most? USA Today’s Candidate Match Game