Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day Post

As of the beginning of the writing of this post, there were 17 minutes left of Inauguration Day, which means 17 minutes to post something before my thoughts on the day are hopelessly out of date (I'd have more time if I lived in, say, British Columbia, but then I would have just started this post three hours later). Truthfully, I don't have much to say on the matter itself. I did manage to catch maybe a half an hour of TV coverage, but it was in a noisy room and I was more focused on food. I haven't had much time to absorb what's been written on the event either. I'm fairly confident that Obama will make a fine president, eloquent speeches notwithstanding.

What did catch my eye, aside from the seemingly endless parade, were the facebook statuses of two of my facebook friends (with names changed to protect identities).

"Mademoiselle She kinda wishes she was American on a day like today."

"Mister He isn't used to being pro-Establishment."

Mademoiselle She is Canadian. Mister He is an American in Canada (no, not that American in Canada). Even before today's events, I could have told you that neither of these people are fans of George W. Bush specifically, or the Republican Party in general, or even conservative ideology (Mlle. She even suggested that there should only be a federal Liberal Party and a federal NDP party, and no more). Both of these express to me a sort of sentiment that I've never been able to identify with. Namely that they will like or dislike a political entity, not based on its inherent qualities, but rather because of the people who are leading it [1]. Mlle. She's sentiment is stronger than that of Mr. He, and I've heard stronger sentiments from others. One left leaning friend once asked another more left leaning friend (who describes Canada's federalist federal parties as centre (NDP), right (Liberal), and extreme right (Conservative)) what party his local MP was affiliated with. Thankfully for them, it was NDP [2]. I didn't quite get why it mattered.

I'm quite happy to be from Hamilton, despite the fact that most of the ridings in the Hamilton consistently elect MPs from parties I wouldn't vote for (and despite the fact that it looks terrible from the QEW, and other locations within). In my lifetime, the Province of Ontario has had Liberal, Progressive Conservative, and NDP governments. No matter which of these parties were in power, my preference for leaving the province or staying hasn't changed much. Or, more accurately, regardless of how much my desire to leave or stay has changed, the party in power has had little to no effect on that change. This is partly due to the fact that I'm from Ontario of course. Our provincial patriotism is low compared to every other province [4]. Even at that national level, though, the pride (or possibly lack thereof) that I have for my country, and my desire to be a citizen of it or any other country, doesn't change come election time. Finally, I don't recall that my preference for living in America, or being an American, has ever changed with the president. At the end of the day, though, it's largely a sideshow to me. I do find politics to be interesting, sometimes too much so, though I'd usually rather listen than discuss. If anything, my lack of patriotism to Canada stems not from the government of the day, but from the fact that Canadian self-identity seems to depend far too much, in my opinion, on what the government does or doesn't do.

None of this is to say that I don't think politics is important. It's just that they are more of a practical matter to me, like plumbing or wiring in my home. I hope some day that if you visit my house, both of these things are in good working order. More importantly, though, I hope that this wasn't the most impressive thing about your visit.

[1] I make an exception for political parties themselves.

[2] It just so happens, it's Pat Martin, the guy who's campaigning against the penny, so I admit to being a bit of a fan.

[3] It's now past midnight. I tried. At least it's still Inauguration Day in the next time zone. The actual location of this footnote got lost. It was intended to be somewhere in the middle of the second paragraph.

[4] Ontarians tend to identify themselves as Canadian, whereas, people from other provinces seem to identify themselves by that province. This has been pointed out to me by American observers and people from other provinces.

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