Blog Archives

Happy New Year: Welcome to 1948!

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve, and so far your resolutions are still intact. I know everyone thought the calendar was switching over to 2012, but if you look more closely, I think we’re entering 1948 all over again. In that very year, Harry Truman waged a campaign for reelection that nobody thought he could win. The media, his Republican opponents, and many within his own party thought his candidacy was a lost cause. Yet, by campaigning on his predecessor’s policies, an arguably strong foreign policy and a Congress he dubbed the ‘do-nothing’ Congress, Truman managed to shock everyone and win.

Well here we are in 2012, and it’s hard not to make the same conclusions about this president. Obama, like Truman, is a Democrat who is seeking reelection in 2012. He is also battling a Congress with one of the worst legislative records in decades, arguably a ‘do-nothing’ Congress. And as November 2012 draws closer, it is looking like he is going to have an even more difficult time securing reelection. Does that mean if Obama campaigns on the same principles as Truman, he too can shock everyone and become a two term president? Probably not.

There are some tricks that Obama can take from the former Missouri farmer. He does need to link together the poor record of this Republican led Congress with the eventual Republican nominee. The country will need to believe that a Republican vote equates to a continuation of the lacklustre leadership of Congressional Republicans (that jab is for you, Mr. Boehner).

However, that is a very fine line to walk. Americans elected Obama to work together with Congress to fix the problems of that nation, and regardless of how difficult it may be to negotiate with them, he has equal blame for the current situation. Ultimately, his leadership is the one being evaluated in November 2012. The leadership and decisions of Congress (while still important) could be judged as being secondary. Not to mention, the economic outlook in 1948 was much better than it is now.

Obama and his team have a tough year ahead of them. It’s not that there haven’t been important achievements (Bin Laden’s death, an end to the War in Iraq, etc.) but there are many more unsolved issues, that are becoming increasingly problematic. The President’s masterful oratory used to be enough to inspire confidence that better times are ahead. Now, it just makes him appear more and more out of touch and unable to find a solution.

So what’s the answer? Well regardless of whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, I personally think we all should be ashamed of the two parties. They both have a chance in 2012 to show how they can lead by example and put the needs of the country ahead of their own. A victory for either side will be meaningless if it comes at the expense of real and genuine progress towards a brighter future.

President Obama, the eventual Republican nominee, and everyone in the 112th Congress better shut up and get to work. 2012 can be a year of fantastic successes, or another year of embarrassing failures.


Inspired by the following CNN article:

Also, if you are on twitter, don’t forget to follow TOP (@theordinarypoli) and also go follow West Wing Report (@WestWingReport). It is a fantastic account with all sorts of facts about current and past administrations. Very interesting for anyone who enjoys presidential facts (in 140 characters or less).

No post about Truman is complete without one of the ultimate political 'Oh Snap' moments.


Huntsman Daughters to the Rescue

Wow, it has been quite a while since a new post was put up. What a terrible blogger I have become. School has been quite busy, and I seem to have convinced myself that is the reason I have not been posting. Yet I am about two weeks into a quiet period of very few tests and assignments, and yet no new post. I hate to admit it, but I think I might be losing inspiration. Everything I can think to write about seems old and repetitive. Much of the buzz in the U.S. right now (and what I personally find most interesting) is the GOP race for the 2012 nomination. All these crazy Republicans running around the country, making gaffes and looking ridiculous. I considered writing unbiased, substantial pieces on each of them, but quickly squashed that idea when I realized I really can’t stand any of them.

Up here in Canada, there isn’t much that is interesting me. The Conservatives are ramming through legislation with their new majority government. We have a new female premier in Alberta (which now gives us three female provincial leaders!) but even that hasn’t been enough to motivate me into authoring a post.

Over in Europe, there continues to be one calamity after another. I have stayed away from European issues, as I don’t know that part of the world as well, and quite simply, I don’t find it nearly as interesting. And since this is my blog, I can decided what to post.

But there was one story that oddly enough, prompted me back to the keyboard. CNN put up a story about former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s ‘Secret Weapons’. This was interesting, because Huntsman (unless every other candidate ahead of him in the polls self destructs) has no chance of winning the nomination. But that hasn’t stopped his (fame seeking?) daughters from jumping onto twitter and other social media sites to promote their Dad’s campaign. As the article notes, family involvement in a political campaign is nothing new. In fact, it is almost expected that when your parent or spouse runs for a political office, you generally help them out. However, it appears that the Huntsman girls are really committed to this, and believe they can help their Dad win.

I give them credit for helping out their father, but I highly doubt these girls will help to push him up in the polls. Perhaps they want to turn this new found fame into a t.v. deal on E! It doesn’t hurt that they are attractive looking girls. To contrast, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has five sons, who are helping with his campaign, although they don’t appear to be as organized and committed as the Huntsman daughters. Nevertheless, for some reason I found this story interesting. The link to the CNN article is below. What do you think? Will their involvement help their Dad’s campaign? How important is the role that families play in an individual’s candidacy?

Also, I want to know what other stories I should post about. I refuse to let this slump that I am in stop new posts from going up. What topics would you like to read about. Do you care about the GOP debates and candidates? Are you interested in the 2012 election, even though it is still roughly one year away? What about issues in Canada? Is there anything of significance going on right now? I also quite miss the Flashback Friday posts. They were without question my favourite posts to write, and hopefully they will make a return in the near future.

Thanks to everyone who has been visiting each day, only to see the same old, stale content. I really do appreciate it.

A Multiple Choice Test With No Wrong Answers!

I am curious to see what the thoughts of TOP readers are regarding this election, and want to perhaps get a glimpse into how they might vote this May. As such, I have a few questions below, which I really hope you’ll take the time to answer. Responses are 100% anonymous, so feel free to choose whatever you like. This are obviously not scientific, scholarly questions. The responses to each are listed in alphabetical (or close to alphabetical) order, so don’t complain if your favourite leader or party is always listed last. The results should be visible, so you can also see how everyone is voting.

Thanks for taking the time to vote!

One More Municipal Election

Yet another Canadian province held municipal elections this week, and I once again couldn’t let it go by without some mention. Manitobans went to the polls on Wednesday night to elect their mayor and councillors. Despite some awful weather Wednesday, voters toughed it out to cast their ballots. While the municipal races in Manitoba did not garner as much attention as those in Ontario and Alberta, they are none the less important.

In Winnipeg, the province’s largest city and Canada’s eighth largest city, incumbent mayor Sam Katz (who I think has the creepiest smile ever) was seeking reelection. He was first selected for the job in 2004 and wished to serve a third term. The last incumbent not to win reelection was ousted 54 years ago, so the odds for Katz’s return looked good. However, he faced longtime and well respected NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis (don’t ask me to pronounce her name). She vacated her federal seat in order to run for the top job.

While polls showed the race to be a virtual toss up between the two, in the end Katz won handily, beating Wasylycia-Leis by over 25,000 votes. The focus of the campaign in the later stages was on crime, as Winnipeg dealt with shooting deaths and increased violence. Katz received the endorsement from many law enforcement officials, which perhaps could account for his win. Winnipeg residents are desperate to see an increased police presence and reduced crime in their city.

One of the more interesting parts of the campaign is when Katz kicked a child in the face. This was an accident, as he missed the ball during a soccer game. He of course apologized to the child and all is well. But someone made a campaign video out of the incident, stating not to vote for Katz since he kicks children in the face. It was obviously a joke, but some American news stations aired the story, thinking it was real. See the video below.

As for Winnipeg city council, it is pretty boring. All the incumbents seeking reelection won, and the new faces that will come to city hall are from wards where the seat was up for grabs. The only other Manitoba races of interest are Brandon, where the incumbent Dave Burgess was defeated by Shari Decter Hirst. Affordable housing was the hot button issue in Brandon for this campaign.

It is interesting when looking at the elections in Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg that all were predicted to be very close. Yet once the votes were counted, none of them actually were. Naheed Nenshi, Rob Ford and Sam Katz all beat their closest rivals without question. I realize polls have margins of error, that are used to explain this, but still makes me curious why the media made the races out to be so close, when in fact they weren’t. Goes to show nothing is for certain until the final votes are counted.

Did Toronto Elect George W. Bush Mayor?

Mayor-elect Rob Ford of Toronto

After all the municipal election excitement here in Alberta, I had no intentions of really posting anything about the equivalent elections in Ontario, but I couldn’t resist after reading some of the commentary on the election outcome in Toronto. I will admit I know very little about Toronto politics, or the candidates who ran for mayor. Therefore I am relying on the media (gasp) to help me out with this.

Toronto Mayor David Miller decided not to seek reelection this year. Miller was elected in 2003 and served two terms. He had previously been a councillor from 1997-2003. In his place an enormous number of candidates put their names forward, the majority of which dropped out before the actual vote took place. Polls showed the race to be between councillor Rob Ford and Liberal deputy premier George Smitherman. Ford is a die hard right-wing conservative who vowed to show strong fiscal restraint. He proudly proclaimed he would “stop the gravy train” (what that means, I have absolutely no idea). Smitherman meanwhile was a liberal contrast to Ford and polls showed the two in a dead heat. In the end, Ford won handily. He beat Smitherman by 90,000 votes. Toronto now has a mayor many compare to Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin and George W. Bush.

In response to this, twitter lit up as many people announced their disapproval with Ford’s selection. Here are just a few of the tweets I read:

@johnpapa Can we PLEASE refer to Rob Ford as “Mayor Double Down”? He’s greasy, filled w/ cheese and generally bad for the health of the city. #voteTO
@JasonJHughes Rob Ford is the Nickelback of Mayors. All the votes, yet no one admits to voting for him. #voteTO
@christineestima on the bright side, we now have the human equiv of Homer Simpson as our mayor. except w.out the charm. #voteto
@mferrier Nobody in Toronto can ever make fun of the US electing Bush ever again. #VoteTO
@Steve_Hamann Can Rob Ford be mayor of Toronto and keep on living in a van down by the river? #VoteTO
@awkwartunity What time is the last gravy train? Will it take me to Montreal? #VoteTO
@VeronikaSwartz Our new mayor is like a McDonald’s fart. Thick, smelly and impossible to clear out of a room. #VoteTO

The tweets like this just go on and on and on! But here are a couple of nicer ones, although they were difficult to find:

@JAVIonline Personally I don’t feel Rob Ford should’ve been elected Mayor of Toronto but I congratulate him none the less. #voteTO
@AndrewLawton Dear Toronto, I will now consider moving there. Thank you. #VoteTO. #RobFordIsAmazing @RobFordTeam

The campaign got nasty at some points, with both front runners the victims of unwarranted attacks. There were also numerous incidents of Mr. Ford’s past to come out which he probably would have preferred stay hidden. But regardless of the disapproving comments of many, Ford won by a large margin and obviously has the support of a large portion of the city. He deserves a fair chance to govern, as does any new politician. In spite of the seemingly terrible public image he has, he could very well turn out to be an effective mayor. Perhaps with the bar set so low, he could surprise many.

Just a couple more notes on other races in Ontario. In Toronto, (which I learned today has 44 councillors!) one of the new faces will be Mike Layton, son of federal NDP leader Jack Layton. Appears Mike is following in his Dad’s footsteps. Another new (or old) face will be Doug Ford, brother of mayor elect Rob Ford who will take over his old riding.

Ottawa will have a new mayor, as the scandal plagued incumbent went down to defeat to Jim Watson. In Vaughn, former Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua easily defeated the incumbent. Maurizio Bevilacqua’s federal seat, as mentioned in the previous post is part of the November byelections. In Mississauga, 89 year old Hazel McCallion won her twelfth term. While I commend her on her amazing service to Mississauga, the woman has got to retire! Twelve terms is too much for anybody. She doesn’t even campaign anymore. It is definitely time for the people of Mississauga to say goodbye to Hurricane Hazel.

Hazel McCallion