martedì, novembre 04, 2008

For all the American people who want change

So this morning when I checked the news after a lovely night's sleep made visionarily tumultuous by some excellent new grass, I couldn't believe how relieved I felt. As the news page loaded I prepared for the worst, and told myself to enjoy these last few moments of not having to think Americans actively wanted the End Times, and even started wondering if I could persuade the F-word on New Zealand instead of Australia for our future home, because it's that much more isolated from a world I'd want to avoid if Americans did actively want the End Times. And then seeing the 'Historic Victory' headline was like taking a shit. A lovely big shit on a Sunday morning.

But in the spirit of me shitting on things: hey, people who voted Democrat, you won! And you won big. Congratulations! The senate probably won't be filibuster proof but otherwise, by winning 52% of the popular vote, you've precluded the 47% of voters who voted Republican from having any control of your legislative process. After what happened in 2004 and 2000 - you know, when the Democrats lost after getting 48.3% and 48.4% respectively, even winning the popular vote in 2004 - it must feel really good. But you also know that's bullshit, right? You know first hand that that's bullshit. I don't know what would have persuaded someone to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket, but millions did, and democracy should be about popular representation, not the nearly complete disenfranchisement of a HUGE (though in this case apparently apocalyptic) minority.

I'm not going to praise the Canadian system, though it's much more representative; it would be hard to be any less representative, so there's no great virtue in that. Any first-past-the-post system is going to end up crap. And as happened a few weeks ago, the Green Party can get 7% of the Canadian vote and lack any seats in Parliament, whereas a regional party like the Bloc Quebecois can get around 10% of the Canadian vote and 49 out of 308 seats. And we still have a fucking Queen, like a bunch of medieval thistle munchers. So no, I'm not going to praise it. But I am going to praise parliamentary systems in general, as something American decision makers should be forced to think about by you, the American People Who Want Change, and mention one that is set up quite well - Australia's. Seriously. Read about it and think about it. Manage that sort of thing without letting the motherfucking Queen step in and slap you down when you're getting too pinkoist, and you would be a proper beacon of democracy throughout the world.

And if you're feeling really ambitious, check out Switzerland. You won't believe your fucking eyes. Nobody ever knows, and then nobody can ever believe that Switzerland does this shit. And nobody can ever believe it works, but it does. You know when you're watching war documentaries, and all the battle lines just sort of stop at the Swiss border while ploughing through other neutral countries? That's why. You know why Swiss people are all fucking rich - even the poor ones? That's why. You know why that country can function as a multi-lingual (4, officially) republican entity, and has done so over centuries despite being located in the thick of the highest, shittiest mountain ranges in Europe with no marketable natural resources besides skihills? That's why. A fundamentally representative political system. And no fucking Queen. Though I bet she keeps a lot of her money there.

Don't get defensive, like this is some sort of commentary about Canada or Australia or Switzerland being better than the US. It's a commentary about their political systems being better than the US's. I've got no personal affinity for the Swiss - full disclosure - Bluebird was Swiss and you know how that went - and some of his more objectionable attitudes to the blacks and the gays were reflected by the other Swiss I met, leaving me with a bad impression overall. And Australians sometimes seem like a bunch of oiks who, like Canadians, still bizarrely tolerate the Queen (though the new leader of the opposition, silver spoon merchant Malcolm Turnbull, used to be the head of the Republican movement, and I believe the ruling Labor party still has republicanism listed as a basic platform, giving me a sliver of hope that by the time we move there that relic of an uglier time will be off the fucking money). And Canadians also shocked me last time I was home by the profligacies of their day-to-day lifestyle. I contemn pretty much everybody, in short. But everybody being contemptible in their own special way should not preclude an examination of that they do right politically, and then ripping off what they do right politically to use in your own country.

So. You want change you can believe in? How about change that's actually change?

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