Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mid-term elections in the U.S.A.

My feeling toward the United States seems to parallel my relationship with my brother. When I was younger, I felt that my brother was an utterly perfect person. My admiration was complete and unquestioning. As I grew older I discovered that he actually had a few flaws. Older still, I found that I strongly disagreed with him from time to time. Still, the love and concern remained. My brother will always have my affection. That's the way I feel about the U.S.A. I've learned that it's less than perfect and I've come to grips with the fact that sometimes we're not going to get along. But they're still "family" and I'm not about to disown them.

The United States had 'conscription' for many years - mandatory military service for a good portion of their young male population. As a result, the young American navy men who visited Canadian ports from time to time represented a fair cross-section of American society. They were a nice bunch. My parents often invited sailors to come home for dinner with us and we found them to be genuinely decent, polite young people.

I was still unabashedly pro-American when I moved to Victoria and I recall a mildly anti-American comment from a new neighbour. I remember her open-mouthed gasp when I told her that if the baby we were expecting was a boy we were planning to name him Ronald Reagan Barr! (My husband joked "Why not Ronald McDonald Barr?")

Time passed and the Clinton presidency came and went. Clinton was imperfect perhaps, but he was an intelligent, likeable fellow. His vice-president, Al Gore, ran for president next and though he seemed a bit of a boy scout leader, he came from wonderful Southern Democrat stock. His father was everything I love in Americans - warm, witty, unaffected and competent. The opposition, on the other hand, was the governor from Texas, the governor who denied a stay of execution to Karla Faye Tucker (the first woman executed in the U.S. since the Civil War). I hated George Bush for that and I still hate him.

I've followed the U.S. elections with great interest all the way back to the Kennedy years. Election night is an event in my household. In November 2000 I stayed up half the night, believing that Gore HAD to win. Surely the people I admired so much couldn't elect a man like that horrible Texan.

On election night 2004 I was sure we would finally be seeing the end of Bush. Surely no one with a brain in his head would vote for that man. I set up our dining table with a festive buffet and settled in for a lovely evening. My sons joined me by the television set, nibbling food, sipping wine and alternately booing and cheering as the returns came in. Fairly early in the evening the crowd grew ugly. Well, I grew ugly. My language would have made those fine young American sailors blush. I went to bed disgusted, thinking those stupid Americans got what they deserved!

Once I cooled off I remembered, of course, that there were still fine Americans out there and the Bush crowd didn't represent the America I know and, yes, love.

So you can guess what I'll be doing tonight. It's mid-term election night. Unfortunately they're not replacing the president yet, but there's a good chance the Democrats can take control of Congress and that would be an improvement. In any event, I'll try to watch my language.

I suppose I should apologize now, for commenting on an election in another country, but they feel like family to me and I worry about them.


At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Maxine said...

Very nice post, Susan. I am sure you are more clued up on American politics than many Americans, and not only because you have read the complete works of Bob Woodward.

I don't think you need to apologise for your views -- many, many people over here are writing about the US elections and I haven't seen one apology. And I'm sure the US people write about our elections when we have them- or comment on our prime ministers of the day, etc.

PS I rather like Clinton too - and Jimmy C. But of course, I didn't have to live with either of them.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger Scott said...

I voted today with a conviction that I've never had before when casting a vote. I couldn't wait to get in the booth and vote against Bush and his corrupt party. I have never voted a straight democratic ticket, until today. I guess I'm not an "independent" voter any more. Read my blog entry about it at http://www.moderateliberal.com

Cheers, to our friends in Canada. Thanks for caring.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Tom P. said...

I am what used to be called a Rockefeller Republican. But as the born-again wing of the Republican Party took control and forced a truly incompetent imbecile upon our country, I have come to realize that there is no room in the Republican party for a liberal Republican. So this year I voted a straight Democratic ticket and will be changing my party affiliation.

Maxine, I hate to disappoint you, but I doubt that many people could even name a political party in Britian let alone name the PM. I think the last PM who was well known in the US was Thatcher.

Susan, very nice post. But I hope you don't expect any of us to know who runs your country! ;-) When the Supreme Court handed the presidency to Bush I wished that I could move to Canada.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Sian said...

Good luck tonight Susan. Hope you don't have to resort to a foul mouth :)

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous clare said...

Excellent post, Susan. I agree with every word. Thought the first paragraph particularly splendid.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Thank you all for the comments. Tom, I'm just like you. I considered myself part of the Republican 'camp' until the George Bush era. I need to remind myself now that I'm cheering for 'blue' and not 'red'. Of course, the American political parties always *were* very similar in the past and changes between incumbents didn't seem so destructive. I do think that the Republican party has been gutted by extremists. I like John McCain though...do you?


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