Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Refreshing political dialogue from the Great White North

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised that I have followed the recent Canadian parliamentary elections. I look forward to discovering if any United States residents assume that because Canadians voted for a party called "Conservative" means that Canada is moving toward a Republican-style government...ha.

What I found refreshing about the coverage from CBC Radio One on the morning after the election was the panel discussion involving fringe candidates. The panel consisted of a Communist Party candidate, a Green Party candidate, and a Christian Heritage Party Candidate (you can probably guess where this guy was coming from). They reported how their candidacies were respected in the Canadian process--they participated in debates (a novel concept), were received well by constituents (for the most part). The process was honored as opposed to nitpicking over the content of their ideas. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas--but the process that upheld a broad exchange of ideas and gave listeners the opportunity to consider that range.

For all the grief I ever gave Minnesotans about their cultural proclivities--I have always respected their political process. Make fun of Governor Jesse "The Body/Mind" Ventura all you want--Minnesotans respect a diverse political process. A Green Party candidate may actually win an election in the next 20 years--the Independence Party has offered respectable candidates, one being former Congressman Tim Penney. Minnesotans have also given leadership opportunities to respectable conservative voices, namely multiple-term governor Arne Carlson. South Dakota politics offers some of the most milquetoast political dialogue I have ever witnessed, even though the politicians themselves can be interesting on their own. Take our convicted felon four-term Republican Governor and former Congressman, Bill Janklow. George McGovern continues to live the life of an activist for positive social change. I never thought much of Tom Daschle, but I found it a novelty that people outside of South Dakota were interested in his race with John Thune (I like him even less).

I dread the upcoming elections in 2006 and 2008, mostly because I think the candidate I truly wish to be involved in the presidential election, Barack Obama, is too inexperienced to be a serious candidate for the presidency. To clarify, I think Obama a good candidate right now, but I think his lack of experience would get shredded in public discourse. If he runs, I want Obama to have the best shot possible. That time will come in 2012. Some of my older colleagues and friends say: "what about JFK?" He was only a one term Senator! I think we live in a different media era, where points about experience can be dissected to the point where too many will believe lack of experience will be a problem. About the only Democratic candidate I can get excited about is Russ Feingold. I had the privilege of voting for him in the 1998 Senate election. If the city of Madison, Wisconsin did not exist, Feingold would have lost in a landslide. Some have called Madison "The People's Republic of Dane County." Feingold is the closest thing to Paul Wellstone we have in the Senate today.

I digress into content. As is the case with my service as an interim pastor, I want to see good process. I saw a good process in Canada-even though the Conservatives won--which was not my preference--the Liberal party reaped what they had sown. A pocket lining finance scandal eroded the trust they had built over 13 years in leadership, and the Canadians wanted to build new leadership. The process worked well, and I hold high admiration to my neighbors to the north.

And to my fellow U.S. citizens I say about our process of choosing government: Sacre Bleu!


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