A funny thing has been happening lately: Americans of all political stripes have been getting mighty defensive about the political discourse that has been surrounding the current American Presidential debate. As a quintessential Canadian, I understand. It is downright embarrassing to be presenting Barack Obama as a progressive, under any circumstances.
Yet, here we are, whereby Canadians are taking to Twitter and Facebook to justify the very policies that Barack Obama has endorsed. Obama has somehow managed to come across as a socialist during this election -- a man who believes in subsidizing insurance companies, who is consistently violating international and domestic law by killing people via drones, and only recently came to the epiphany that all people should be free to choose the person they marry, is being painted by the GOP as a socialist.
More alarmingly, however, is the ease in which the Conservative base in Canada has managed to sympathize with Romney. To them, Obama is indeed a "socialist," hellbent on derailing American off track.
This of course brings a very important debate to the forefront: is the Harper government much further to the right than they would like to let on? After all, it seems rather odd that Canadian Conservatives could find anything in common with the current Republican Party of today. And yet, my Twitter and Facebook feeds increasingly seem to be filled with pro-Romney Canadians.
Either Conservative Canadians don't believe in marriage equality, women's rights and health care for all, or they truly deem these issues to be "up for debate," even though no other civilized society has questioned any of these notions. Regardless, it is more than enough reason for the Canadian public to question the agenda of our Conservative government, especially considering the fact that so many of its supporters are blind Romney supporters.
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Tommy Douglas, the inventor of socialized medicine, was voted as "the greatest Canadian," and yet Obamacare remains a dirty word amongst Republicans and Canadian Conservatives alike. Socialized medicine, a noun, can be defined as the provision of medical care for an entire population with the use of public funds. Canada's health care delivery system is designed to ensure that all Canadians have reasonable access to medically necessary physician and hospital services, all on a prepaid basis through taxation. That is socialized medicine, or as the rest of the civilized world calls it, medicine. Obamacare, also a noun that has found its way into the American vernacular, does not fit the definition of socialized medicine. Conversely, Obamacare is a system that is based on state-sponsored capitalism.
In mandating private insurance for all Americans, President Obama has effectively tilted America's already socialist system -- uninsured individuals being covered by the mercy of the hospitals, who in turn transfer this cost onto the insurance companies, who subsequently hand off this cost to the insured, who then effectively absorb this expenditure through increased premiums -- to one where people are forced to take personal responsibility for themselves and purchase insurance.
Thus, I would ask that the public please stop referring to Obamacare as socialized medicine. It isn't. I wish it was, for America's sake, but as long as Obamacare keeps being confounded with socialism, it makes the actual delivery of socialized medicine look bad.
Additionally, I consistently fail to comprehend how Americans can deem themselves the pinnacle of democracy when the country still struggles with the concept of affording its gay community the basic civil right of being able to marry the person that they have fallen in love with.
The Romney-Ryan ticket would seek to amend the Constitution to redefine marriage as being between a man and a woman. This proposed Constitutional amendment would put America on the same footing as countries such as Latvia and Liberia. Gay marriage, or simply, marriage, has been legal for all Canadians since 2005, and oddly enough, raining toads or plagues of locusts have not befallen Canada. The denial of gay rights is the denial of human rights, and the sooner the American people in general, and the GOP in particular, begins to realize that, the better.
Moreover, as the GOP attempts at eradicating a woman's basic right for jurisdiction over her own body, with as much gusto as many of the same theocracies the GOP claims to despise, Canada looks on with dismay.
I get it. Republicans love choices (except when it's a woman choosing) and they also cherish their individual liberties (even if it means watching their uninsured neighbour die, and prohibiting same sex couples from marrying). But isn't it time the GOP get with the times and stop trying to pull the country back into an era whereby June Cleaver served as the model woman, "Chinaman" was an acceptable term, and white males wielded absolute power in politics (instead of the overwhelming majority of it).
The problem lies with the fact that the Republican Party has been moving increasingly right since the 1980s. Nobody is saying Canada is some sort of utopian country to serve as an archetypal model; Canada has many of its own failings. However, as long as Canada holds true to the notions that access to health care is a fundamental human right, the love between two women or two men is no different than the love between a man and a woman, that women should be free to exercise dominion over their own bodies, and that regulations in the financial sector does not qualify us as de facto Communists, I'll drink to that. Canadian Club, of course.