Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Democracy of Fables and Fantasy

As a Canadian, people often ask me why I watch American News Channels as much as I do. In response, I have to say that once upon a time Canadian News was an accurate reflection of Canadian determinations. But that is no longer the case. In the last few years, Canada has become a reflection of the U.S. and what little there is to impart logic, representation, and understanding of Canadian governance comes more accurately by viewing the rippled image in the pond of U.S. governance. And I guess that explains why, as a Canadian, I’m going to rant about American politics rather than affairs within my own country.

Now yesterday when I came to the kitchen for morning coffee, Hub was watching television. And what he was watching was George Bush expounding the grand merits of democracy and how, because Iraq is now a democracy, everything is so idyllic. Iraqis are in this grand place where they can choose who their next leader will be.

Now hold that thought while we randomly connect the dots. I have to tell you that I am under a staid impression that the president’s wife is fascinated by fairy tales. I can’t help but feel this way after characters of these tales were center-pieced as Christmas decorations for the White House a few years ago.

It seemed to me an odd choice. Even when it was explained the study was for emphasis on reading and literacy. Cause in my mind there are a limitless number of literary works that promote reading, understanding, and knowledge far more than make-belief. (But then maybe part of the purpose of that theme was to get Americans in gear for the fantasies of good and evil that could and would, like fairy tales, magically morph into reality.)

And what was more distressing in this choice was I thought that perhaps Laura’s fascination would lead her to do what I do with my favorite stories. I often read them aloud to Hub at bedtime.

I hope not, because hasn’t it been said, that ‘what you read, is what you are’? I think she has been reading them because truly that presidential speech about democracy that I found myself listening to yesterday morning sounded more like a fantasy tale than any revelation of real truth.

Now, without question, I have never heard such a grand exhortation of the wonders of democracy, and when I was right at the brink of trembling conviction, something untoward hit me. What I thought was that if right now, the speech was suspended for a quick game of “Democracy” on the White House Lawn with cheer-leaders in formation around the star player yelling a pre-game cheer…“Who do you want and why to you want him?”…what would happen? Would the boo’s be as loud as I think they would be?

And then when the ball was tossed out, and the game began, I am quite convinced that this pick-up-spontaneous-game of Democracy would end before the first inning. Because before that first inning was complete, the game would have such a margin of defeat, there would be little point in continuing. But Democracy doesn’t work that way.

People in a democracy can choose who they want but when they find the selection was disguised and not at all what it appeared to be, nothing can be done in response to a change of mind about the choice that they made. Even when they discover that the leader they chose is different than he used to be. There is no remedy. It has a similarity to Snow White too late discovering that the sweet old lady with the basket of delicious juicy red apples was really a witch in disguise, with a basket of death treats.

I think if the real intent of Democracy is to be upheld, it should be a game played more frequently than every four years. In fact, maybe it should be played at undetermined times, like an unplanned pick-up game on a green field or ice rink. Rather than pulled out of the attic at election time and then stashed, ignored, and allowed to collect dust until the next round.

In the meantime, all it does is provide a fixed resolve for a period of time where nothing can be amended and we are held captive in that dark dungeon, even long after we have discovered the apples are toxic. Democracy loses much sweetness when I think how in real life, democratically-elected leaders can be ‘booed’ but no matter how much they are booed they do what they want, how they want, cause they know full well they cannot be ‘booed’ off the field. That there is no need to remain in game-mode. That there are no ‘out of bounds’ penalties to worry about.

Now, all I’m telling you in this rant is what I was thinking. So now to go to some wildly disconnected dots as I continued to watch the speech about the beauty of democracy in Iraq while in my head I contemplate that other – the ugliness of democracy that we choose to ignore.

I only surf politics, I am a casual skimmer. Not big into that sort of thing. And the other thing I am not into is stock market investments. But having watched this speech which left me so close to conviction and then so utterly disgusted and unimpressed, I felt like doing something quite out of character for me. I felt like smashing my TV.

And then I thought, if I, as a casual bystander, who so pride myself on letting it all run off my back, have this sudden urge to smash my television, then right now at this very moment, it is time for me to buy stocks in television manufacturing. Because if I feel this way, those politically-minded people, in Canada and the U.S., and I know there are a goodly number, will be smashing televisions this morning at an unbelievable rate. And then they’ll all be scurrying downtown next week to buy another. I must buy shares in television manufacturing immediately. It couldn’t be a surer bet.

So I turned on my computer to look for a buying site and that’s when I realized something that totally crushed all my dreams of sudden wealth. The program I was listening too was on the Republican Channel!! I think you know which one I mean. The one with all that spin, enough spin to spin straw into gold.

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