Sunday, January 13, 2008

Observations of a U.S. election from an American trapped in a Canadian body

As a Canadian observer perhaps I can shed a different perspective on the election of a U.S. president. First of all given the election process established for the past 50 years or more, the candidates “buy” their way into the White House.

To other countries, the U.S. is viewed as a nation that prides itself on the accumulation of wealth and success. In other words if you have enough money you are deemed a success, and with America’s addiction to celebrities, if you have wealth and “star” status you make the newspaper headlines.

The pursuit of the “American Dream” however has become it’s worst nightmare. Check out the growth of rehab centres, the shrinking of the middle class, the foreclosures, the increased crime and violence, and the 47 million Americans suffering from illness and disease because they are too poor to have health insurance.

When Obama reached $25 million in campaign contributions, he made the headlines and was immediately elevated to the rank of a possible contender. Conversely if you have “star” power, and no money, you are still classified as a “loser”. What is broken in America is the political process, where money is equated to power and power is equated to success. Oprah has money and “star” status, so when she gets behind Obama he is suddenly elevated in the minds of the American people.

Other countries view America as a “narcissistic”, spoiled child, and a bully who always gets what he wants. Bush Jnr. has spent the last 8 years proving all of the rest of the world right.

Make no mistake Obama and Clinton have both bought votes. Only 3% of American individuals actually give to political campaigns, that leaves 97% to come from major corporate contributions and self interest groups. The truth is, and the truth hurts, Wall Street is in bed with the White House and the White House is in bed with Wall Street.

I do feel that it will take a fundamental shift in the way Americans are elected to congress and the white house. But that requires a tsunami of change to come from the middle class. The gap between the rich and poor in America has never been greater.

The poor have no money, therefore no power. The rich have money and the power. The middle class have a voice and a little money. The “Middle Class” revolution is the only hope.

This is America’s wake up call. Take the campaigns away from the candidates and their managers. Political strategists will always advise candidates to say “what people want to hear them say”.

According to the Center for Public Integrity we are at the lowest level of trust of governments and companies since the 1930’s.

Americans need to start thinking about who they are and what they have become.

The middle class have become it’s greatest losers and subsequently “its’ greatest hope”. You have strength in numbers and a reason to be passionate about your cause. Start a “grass roots” movement that personifies truth, honesty and success measured in values, integrity, and compassion, rather than money and power. That is America’s only hope.

The Dalai Lama has said that it will take 8-10 years for America to change, let’s hope it is within our lifetime and the lifetime of our grandchildren. Let the revolution begin!

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