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TV Debates: Candidates Making Nicey Nicey October 3, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Class, Canada, John McCain, Sarah Palin.
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Two Great Debates on prime time last night: the U.S. Vice Presidential and the Canadian Prime Ministerial.  I was unable to watch either.


For a reasonable $9.95 a month there is cable TV in the paradisiacal backwater third world village I inhabit at the moment, but I do not subscribe since I have no interest in watching Brazilian soap opera.  Albeit at the maddeningly slow pace of dial-up (yes, here we are in the twenty-first century and dial-up still refuses to die), however, I can read the full text of each debate on the Internet and review commentaries at the web sites of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, etc.


What always grabs me when read the newspaper coverage is the obligatory photo of all the participants, sometimes shaking hands, sometimes hugging, always smiling that hail fellow well met smile, and happy to be there with his or her fellow friendly opponents.  This, I am convinced, is to assure the nervous viewer (for what is there not to be nervous about in the world of politics and economy these days?) that, despite our differences, we are all patriots, one big happy family engaging in the democratic process for the benefit of the country and humankind; ready to put our little differences behind us and work as a team for the general good.


If you are anything at all like me, then these photos may very well induce an uncontrollable urge to vomit.


I experienced directly and personally the “we’re-all-one-big-family” phenomenon when I sat on the Municipal Council of Metropolitan Toronto.  The (televised!) debates on important issues were always contentious, delivered with passion and conviction.  Opponents, while seldom frankly insulted, were usually treated as if their point of view contained potentially fatal dangers to the body politic, if not the very future of humankind.  However, in the back-chambers lounge, old boy (and old gal) clubbiness prevailed and schmoozing was the order of the day.  I was by far the most radical left on the Council, yet my ultra-conservative brethren and sisterern could not be friendlier: they sent flowers when I was in the hospital saying goodbye to my gall bladder.


What is my point?  My point is that the media, the politicos themselves, the academics, the talking head pundits, they all want to avoid at all costs the notion of class, and, above all, the concept of … horrors … class warfare.


There is no class warfare in North America (or anywhere for that matter).  Those who are homeless, those who cannot afford health care, those who are losing their homes via the mortgage lending fiasco, those whose jobs are being “outsourced” to the third word, undocumented immigrants who do our shit work for peanuts only to be harassed by their employers and terrorized by Homeland Security and the local police, all these fully enfranchised U.S. and Canadian citizens or residents should be thankful in that they share the same geography, democratic privileges and Christian values as the Kenneth Lays and the Conrad Blacks.  As I say, one big happy family.  Only some are not so happy.


So what am I advocating?  Class warfare?  I don’t need to advocate class warfare, it goes on at a low level (that from time to time, like nowadays, is elevated to a much higher level) every day.  All I am saying is: recognize it for what it is.


I may share citizenship, for example, with Stephen Harper and John Bush McCain, but I do not see them as fellow anything.  They are dangerous men, not only to me personally, but to millions of Canadians and Americans.  They and the big money behind them have no scruples when it comes to winning and holding power.  AVERAGE WORKING OR UNEMPLOYED LOW OR MEDIUM INCOME CANADIAN OR AMERICAN: HARPER AND MCCAIN ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.  Their election will cost you: money, health, the very biosphere in which you live.  BEWARE.


The scariest statistic I have read lately is that just over one third of Americans believe that Sarah Palin is fit to be President of the United States.  If this is true, then I am fit to be the Queen of England.


And I am not amused.