Canadians who get their news from online news feeds are being bombarded with the minutiae of not one but two national elections. Both the Canadian and American election processes are far too long, and most of us have tired of it. In Canada, an election must take a minimum of 36 days, but this one is going to take 78 days. We are all numb already and we still have 19 days to go.
I feel sorry for Americans whose election process lasts longer than many celebrity marriages. First the parties have a very public bickering about who should lead them. Then they have primary and caucus debates, followed by nominating conventions, followed by presidential candidates’ debates, followed by Election Day, followed by electoral votes to choose the president. This process that began in the spring of 2015 won’t end until November 8, 2016. Even then, the inauguration isn’t until January 2017. That’s almost two years from start to finish. Now that I think about it, maybe Canada’s 78 days isn’t too long after all.
While we are keeping our leaders occupied with these popularity contests, our nations continue to go about their businesses. Apparently, whatever the leading politicians normally do can be interrupted for months. When you or I leave our jobs for personal reasons or for vacations, we come back to a mountain of work that still has to be done. We don’t have the luxury of assuming someone else will do our job for us. Politicians and would-be politicians apparently can and do. Maybe we should be voting for those nameless underlings who are actually doing the candidates’ jobs.
In Canada, we can cast our votes in advance of the actual Election Day and it seems to me that more people should take advantage of this opportunity. We can go to advance polls at polling stations, or vote by special ballot at an Elections Canada office, or we can vote by mail. If more people took advantage of these opportunities, the bean counters could figure out when enough people have already made their decision to be able to stop all the endless television debates.
Oh, I know what you are going to say. They have to keep trying to persuade us right up until the last minute because some people haven’t made up their minds yet. Well, too bad. If they haven’t made up their minds after the first four weeks of the campaign, they probably never will. They’ll either not vote at all or they’ll vote for whichever name comes first on the ballot. Or, they’ll just vote for the party they’ve always voted for. We don’t need to spend millions of dollars trying to convince these people.
After a while, it’s all just more of the same, anyway. The poor journalists have to trying to find something of interest in a speech they’ve heard a dozen times, and we are left to read or watch matters of national importance reduced to sound bites. The debates are important, but too often the media manage to focus on someone rolling their eyes or saying something stupid. That’s when we know we are doomed. The candidates might speak as eloquently and intelligently as Shakespeare, but two days later we are left with only a couple of gifs that reduce it all to absurdity.
So, here’s my plan. The candidates get to strut their stuff for four weeks, then that part of the process stops. The politicians have to go into hiding or back to work, whichever is the least noticeable, for the next couple of weeks. We all get to vote in advance polls or by mail at any point once the election has been called. Polling stations will be open for the last four days of the election period.
If we are not allowed to procrastinate, we will probably get more done. And maybe a faster process would encourage more people to cast their ballot. In fact, getting more people to vote could be the main objective. In that case, though, the process would be about us and not the politicians, and that would never do, would it?
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