Americanization of British Columbia’s Political System

Americanization of British Columbia’s Political System


Is British Columbia’s political system
becoming Americanized? US television and culture leads us to US solutions. Should
we not look to our own political traditions for inspiration? We adopted
the U.S. fixed date election. Campaigns became longer, attracting professional
partisans, requiring more money and a centralized focus around the leader. The
Premier became more Presidential. Messaging replaced knowledge, polls
replaced policy. Elected officials’ role was to stay ‘on message’. The necessity to
do politics became longer; the opportunity to do government shorter.
Professional campaigners bring partisanship to new levels with wedge
issues and culture wars. Society becomes polarized. Decision making becomes
gridlocked. Candidate selection has become more like a Primary, an extension
of the endless campaign. The U.S. system of Referenda, Initiative and
Recall extends the campaign further. An industry devoted to partisan division
ensures the issues are not what people vote on. When the campaign ends the
partisan warriors don’t go away.They fold into government, embedding partisan
values in culture, ensuring everyone stays on message. Do we really want to be
more like the U.S? Let us be vigilant and insist on getting inspiration from
our own traditions. Let us follow a different path, anchored in history but
with the flexibility required to excel in an uncertain future.

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