The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A United States election

You thought this was going to be about election fraud, didn't you?

I don't think I have ever seen a domestic election which has garnered as much international attention as the one currently developing in the United States. Non United States citizens will as yet not have votes in that election (I hope!): but the attempts to influence from abroad have gone well beyond ridiculous into ludicrous mode, not least because far too much of the international public assumes that there even can be a major difference in United States domestic policy based solely upon whether a Democrat or a Republican is elected to the presidency. There seems to be a powerful belief in that nebulous "out there" which assumes that Kerry will be able to work with the world community to resolve issues which are at least as much domestic as international, and which have been created not only over the past three years, but over the past few centuries.

Curiously enough, bin Laden seems to be almost the only person I have yet noticed who -- at least in what he says -- seems to even suggest that at this point whoever sits in the presidential office won't make any real difference to the direction the United States has taken as a whole. Call it the democratic disconnect (perhaps inherent to a diverse society governed by a single member plurality system), the preferences of the people becoming increasingly decoupled from the choices being made by the parties in power: a simultaneous perception of personal disenfranchisement together with an increasing refusal to bear responsibility for choices over which one perceives no personal control; yet nevertheless always the people enduring first the consequences of those choices.

(Being bin Laden though, he ties those choices to direct consequences which do remain under his partial control, and which I will always find unacceptable. Full transcript)

Odd theory of the day: economics has always been grounded in (but has never acknowledged its debt to) human psychology, specifically within a Hobbesian model of "nature red in tooth and claw". This assumption leads to economic theories built upon the a priori primary premise of individual self-benefit ... yet human psychological patterns are not individualistic!

Only the people of the United States can really change the direction their country is going - and only if they so wish, and if they collectively find a different direction acceptable to what it means to be American, and only if they are determined and willing to actively choose a different direction. In particular to this blog entry: only if they feel they are not being forced to their choice by external influences. We are a stubborn race, we Homo sapiens: and very few things can drive us to a particular choice so effectively as when others not of our in-group oppose it.

Most immediately relevant would be that no matter how strongly I myself might feel about an issue, even one with potentially world-shaking consequences: I don't have the right to attempt to interfere with another country's domestic choices.

Thus I say absolutely nothing here of what that direction should or should not be. I have spoken in the past to how a particular domestic choice influences one's own people and others outside the country. I will no doubt do so again. But I won't ever tell someone else how or even whether to vote or not vote, or in what other manner to express the ethics by which they have chosen to live.

I say only this: choose, and know in its entirety what it is you choose.

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