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Partisan politics and the Canadian dating pool

St. Marys Journal Argus editorial

The partisan nature of American politics has been on high-profile display over the past few weeks, as the colours of a candidate’s campaign signs have been given much greater attention than the substance of their statements.

It’s not surprising, considering the election of the US president has become the biggest-money event on the planet. Billions of corporate dollars are tied up in whether Obama or Romney occupies the White House, and the people in charge of that money are trying to make certain it is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible. Playing with people’s emotions, they believe, is the swiftest route to their voting preferences . . . hence the incitement of fear, ridicule, and even hatred.

There are some inconsequential, even humorous results of this heightened partisanship. In the Oct. 28 Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Williamson wrote about the Selective Search Inc. matchmaking service, which charges a starting rate of $20,000 to find true love.

“Not in four presidential elections has Selective Search seen so much love lost over politics,” Williamson wrote. “In past election years, about a quarter of (Selective Search’s) clients wouldn’t date a member of the opposite party. Now it is three-quarters.”

But there is also serious fall-out from the partisanship. In very few cases are there two solutions to any given problem. Instead, there may be four, five, six or seven that have true potential for pointing a future path. And perhaps a combination of one, two or three of these solutions — if the proponents of those solutions can be brought together in a room to hash out their differences — could be the perfect answer.

But it’s clear the US is hurtling in a completely opposite direction from this ideal. Firstly, there’s zero likelihood that problem-solvers of differing political stripes would ever come together in a room.

And secondly, there’s now a perception that there are only two diametrically opposed solutions to every problem, red or blue, not the nuanced combination of solution that might provide the true answer.

This was already in clear evidence during the first Obama administration, when the president’s most significant accomplishments were the few instances when he was able to bend enough rules and stickhandle enough votes to dodge the constant legislative roadblocks. He had been elected to lead according to the rules of a system that, way back when, was designed to let the president lead. But the Republicans made it clear from the start that he would face constant obstruction. And that’s what happened.

With the current campaign’s heightened level of damn-the-facts polarization, it’s obvious whatever camp wins will have even less luck bringing its promises to fruition.

Are we headed down the same path here in Canada? Increasingly, the tactics employed by high-profile politicians have lent themselves to increased partisanship, and an increased level of animosity between the parties. Media partisanship — which, in the form of Fox News and others in the US, has been a major cause for the trend — has made its way into Canada.

Perhaps our saving grace is our tiny, sparse population. We’ve got a small enough dating pool as it is; Imagine basing your dating decisions on whether someone’s for or against Don Cherry’s latest rant? That could make for a lot of long, cold winter nights alone.

(S.S.)

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