The next Canadian federal election is now officially underway as of yesterday. What, you didn't know? There's another election going on? Where? Oh, there. Yes, I think I'd heard about it.
Of course, it pales in comparison to the drama and intrigue of Canadian federal politics.
Okay, so we don't have a 20-month governor of Alaska who questions what a VP does and hides her pregnant 17-year old daughter behind her infant son. But, we have Stephane Dion.
What? What do you mean "who?"
Given that things are undersay, the signs are popping up all over, on lawns, on radio and on t.v.. In fact they were popping up a couple of days before Mr. Harper visited the Governor General.
I'm taken aback, intrigued and disgusted, slightly, by the Harper t.v. ads. Well, one ad in particular. Here it is. Watch and tell me what you think. I'll do the same:
I saw this on t.v. for the first time two days ago, officially one day before the writ was dropped. I was surprised by my emotional reaction to it. And then I was slightly appalled, but not surprised, by what the Conservatives are trying to do here. My emotional reaction was a little catch in my throat, an inward "awwww". I believe I reacted that way because I'm a parent myself and I'm already sad about the day that Emily doesn't want to spend as much time with me. I can empathize with him. I also think that his feelings about being a father are truly heartfelt and that brings out an emotional reaction in other parents.
But WTF does this have to do with politics?
I analyzed my own feelings and then I wondered, for quite a long time, about how they were going to connect this to the election.
I think the Conservatives are doing two things here: betting on an emotional response from viewers and hoping those viewers don't analyze those feelings enough and just translate it into a vote for Harper. He's emotional (let's be honest, we've never seen that before after all), he's a "family man", he understands other parents, hey, we're the same!
The other thing I think they're doing is saying that Harper has kids, the other guys don't, therefore he's more real, more better, more familiar.
Why do we need familiar? This isn't a reason to vote for someone. I don't think that being Joe or Josephine Neighbour means you should lead Canada. I think you should have something extraordinary, something NOT like everyone else in order to do that job.
That's the current problem I see with American politics, too. People want someone like them. Why? Do people really think that is what makes a great leader? Great leaders are great because they are, for the most part, different.
Maybe Stephen Harper is indeed different but clearly his people think that Canadians don't want to know what makes him stand out. Apparently Canadians want to know what makes him the same.
And that scares me. It scares me because it is yet another way that the Conservatives assume Canadians are like Americans. And let me tell you something. The Canadians I know are not the general populous painted by American politicians.
What to know something else? Americans generally aren't either.