It’s the American Way

There’s a form of punishment called Chinese Water Torture. The basic idea was to drip water onto the person’s forehead until they were driven to confess.

For some reason, that came to mind when I was thinking about Tuesday’s election.

We don’t live in a large metropolitan area, so our candidates are not the ones taking out expensive ads on local TV stations. It’s probably just as well. After the last 2+ year Presidential election cycle, I’ve learned to tune out any ad that starts with people talking in “significant tones”.

Of course, that means that I don’t watch the gubernatorial ads either. I wonder what happened to that silly idea about people interviewing candidates and presenting their views on various issues?

A candidate came around door-to-door meeting voters a couple of weeks ago. It’s happened once or twice before. Having lived in the city for many years, it’s a little disconcerting to see a well-dressed stranger pull up. I always check for religious tracts.

It has to be a little scary for the candidate too. We live in a politically conservative area. I think that means everyone has a gun. On the other hand, most people are so impressed by the effort that they give the guy a chance. Or at least remember his name.

We’ve had a lot of candidates with fuzzy agendas and vague promises. I think this might be the first year we’ve have a proposal that’s fuzzy and vague. Not that the language is written in such a way as to get people confused. Rather, no one understands what the proposal will do. Including the candidates.

We can’t find anyone who will own up to writing the creature. All that seems to be coming out of it is that it will be good for business. Probably small business. May do something for the people too. Impacts the current tax situation somehow.

It was at this point that I intended to make a humorous comparison about how much easier it would be to live in Great Britain because I have heard that the election campaign season is limited to the two months prior to the election.

However, it seems that this is one of those cases where a little information is a dangerous thing. I had neglected to take into account how many political parties there are in Great Britain. The first clue probably should have been the number of countries in that small space.

The second clue might have been that England has been around for a very long time. Political parties seem to be like any other belonging. The longer you’re around, the more stuff you have in your attic.

Beginning with the basics. There are five major parties contesting elections. Definitions courtesy of Wikipedia. Without reference I knew about the Conservatives (center-right), Labour (center-left, and misspelled according to my computer), and the Liberal Democrats (center-left). There are also the UK Independence Party (right wing) and the British National Party (far right).

The Green Party is apparently more united and doesn’t have what we Americans would call a primary. Or they may not have more than one person interested in running. Their members are too smart.

So, right off the bat, we have the potential for multiple candidates for five parties. I have no idea how many different positions are contested in each election but for their sake, I hope it’s fewer than the federal and state Senate and Congressional districts I deal with. (Besides the President and locals).

In the last election, there were 18 other parties getting votes. They run the gamut from the National Front on the far right (think fascism) to the far left Socialist Alternative (Trotskyist) and Communist Party of Britain (Marxist). I liked the name of the Pirate Party, but was disappointed to discover that they promote reform on copyright and privacy laws (oh, that kind of pirate). But my absolute favorite/favourite is The Official Monster Raving Loony Party. It promotes parties and makes fun of the other parties. I think I could have a political future there if I ever move.

I can imagine living in London or some other major city. You would be getting the major parties everywhere, the minor parties on select stations and areas, and the fringe parties on flyers and posters where they have a following.

If you lived on the west side of England near the Irish Sea, you might be able to hear ads for the Northern Irish parties as well. In the north, you have Scottish parties and in the southwest, you have Welsh parties.

Not only would you be hearing from candidates you couldn’t vote for, you’d have trouble understanding them. (Well, that part may not be so different.) Even for two months, that would be annoying. With the general election to follow.

Maybe our system isn’t so bad. (Yeah, right.)

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