The United States of America was founded on the principles of democracy. That much any citizen of the world should know. It should be no surprise then that Americans love their elections. Voter turnout statistics from George Mason University show that approximately 132,653,958 Americans turned out for the 2008 presidential election between Democrat Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain. Senator Obama won that election, and now his four year term is running out. President Obama now runs for re-election against a new Republican candidate, Governor Mitt Romney.
US Government 101
The US uses a two-party political system, in contrast to Canada’s multi-party system. Similar to the Canadian system, the president is elected indirectly, by voting for state “electors” to officially elect the President and Vice President. There are 538 electors across every state, and the winner is declared by popular vote from that pool of people. There are two houses of legislature in the United States: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives, or the lower house, has the power to pass federal laws, although the bills must be passed by the Senate and the President before they become binding. Each state is represented in the house in proportion to its population, with at least one representative. The total number of representatives is locked at 435. The Senate is the upper house, and has 100 members. It reads and deliberates on bills passed by the lower house, and can propose its own bills. The Senate cannot propose bills that impose taxes or spend federal funds.
Two Party System
The two parties in the American system are the Democrats and the Republicans. The Democrats are a more socialist party, which focuses on policies like healthcare and social reform. It is most popular with younger voters, ethnic groups, and the working class. The Republicans are a conservative party, which focuses on a free business market and individual achievement. They are primarily supported by older Americans, large businesses and businessmen, and otherwise high-income voters.
What’s at Stake: Economy, Jobs and the Middle East
With the major downturn in the US economy during the presidency of George W. Bush, it has become the primary issue in this year’s election. The Democrats plan to tackle this issue by moving manufacturing jobs back into the US, and investing in renewable energy plans in order to reduce dependencies on foreign oil. The Republicans plan on providing tax cuts to businesses and large corporations, and incentives to develop resources. Governor Romney is a very wealthy businessman, cofounding a highly successful investment firm, and as Governor of the state of Massachusetts, he eliminated a projected $1.2-$1.5 billion dollar deficit. During his time in office, President Obama has signed several economic recovery acts, increasing tax credits, and bringing American job creation back into positive figures.
The second major issue being talked about in this election is the unstable situation in the Middle-East, particularly concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Both the Republicans and Democrats believe that Iran must not have a nuclear program. President Obama has imposed heavy economic sanctions against Iran. Governor Romney wants to tighten those sanctions again. On the topic of Israel, both parties stand behind it, considering them their greatest ally in the area. In Iraq, President Obama has chosen to pull combat troops out of the area, and focus on training the Iraqi government to defend its own citizens.
As of the last presidential debate, the two candidates stood neck and neck. The United States has always been a major ally to Canada, and whatever happens will surely have a big effect on our country as well. The election date falls on November 6th.