Campaign Without End

The process to elect a nominee and President in the United States is ridiculous, expensive, ineffective, and flawed. Because the process now takes well over a year, the cost to run such a race is astronomically wasteful, and thanks to a lowest-common denominator mass media in America, it comes down to a horserace and Honey Boo-Boo politicking. 

Our neighbors in Canada follow the British parliamentary model. In federal elections, they vote for a member of parliament – the parties release their platforms through slick manifestos, and you elect people based on the policies they promote more than the personalities. The party that wins the most seats gets to name the Prime Minister, or head of government (the Queen, through her Governor-General, remains the head of state).  In the US, the head of state and of government are unified. 

Canada recently made a change whereby a particular government must submit to an election at least every four years (it used to be a maximum of five). PMs may ask the Governor-General to call a new federal election on demand. MPs may call for a no-confidence motion, and if successful, a new election is called. 

The minimum time for a federal election is 36 days. The longest one ever conducted was less than 80 days long. Spending on elections is strictly regulated by statute. 

As you watch the tightly scripted, wildly predictable debate tonight between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, think about how there just might be a better way to go about this. 


  • The problem, of course, is that the guys in charge of deciding how our elections will be run are the same ones who benefit from the current setup. Why would they change it? Too much money involved.

  • I’ve never been a big supporter of publicly financed campaigns but I’m starting to buy into the idea of a reasonable campaign season where equal funding is provided to both candidates and away we go.  No one is being well served by what this presidential marathon has turned into.

  • The English parliamentary system has always fascinated me. I’m not sure what parts of it could be adopted by our system of governance without someone losing their shit over it though. 

  • Aside from the National Press Correspondents Dinner, British Parliament is the most exciting thing CSPAN airs.

  • Alan: Take a look at Rick Mercer’s rants on Canadian politics. He spares NO one…not the Liberals, not the Conservatives, and not even the NDP.(He’s even put together a couple of books of his rants.)

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