I think, speaking as a Canadian, that those of us outside the US really do not have a real grip on exactly how divisive the American political situation is. As a result, we may inadvertently step into the muck simply because we can’t imagine how much our American friends have invested in the political situation, how deeply these things are felt south of the border. The whole thing looks familiar enough: you listen to the debates, read up on the issues, choose someone to vote for, go to the polling station, and cast your vote then wait to see what happens. The reality, however, seems to be quite a bit different … in the details of the process, certainly. (An *electoral college*? A senate that can have a majority that isn’t the same party as the guy in charge of the country? Confusing.) But it’s more than that.
The biggest difference is in the tone of the discussions. It goes on and on and on, for one thing … and every election has some mudslinging and rumour mongering, no matter where you are. But I’ve had to hide the Facebook feeds of my good American friends simply because I was overwhelmed by the level of anger and wildly overstated rhetoric in the posters and articles and comments … things that, judging by the media coverage I’ve followed, are pretty much run of the mill for a US election campaign. We believe in free speech too, but a lot of the stuff that is routinely thrown around in American political circles would get you into court for libel or defamation if you said that kind of thing in Canada. I’ve been absolutely shocked by the tenor of the discourse leading up to and following the election. It’s so … so … impolite. So rough. So full of wild rhetoric. And everything I am saying here applies to both sides.
Up here, after the election everyone just keeps on talking much the same as they did before, because hey, one set of politicians are not that much different than the next set: they all try, and they do have differences of course, but the system is big and you don’t turn the Titanic on a dime, and complaining about politicians of ALL parties (even the ones you voted for) is about as much a national past time as complaining about the weather.
American politics, though, is just too hot to handle, even among friends, it seems.
The world’s got lots of messes. It really is up to individuals to do the best they can to make things better where they are. Politicians - no matter how much we might wish for them to do more - can only do so much. It’s each of us helping our neighbours, being kind to those we interact with daily, reaching out to those who need a helping hand when we have one to offer … that’s what really makes a difference in this world. And that’s something we can do no matter who sits in the fancy chairs in the big buildings in the capital.
And, I bet it’s something we all agree on, too!