A More Civilized Way To Do Things

Why can’t we do things the way the Brits do?  Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday, 23 June that he would resign as Prime Minister, after the UK voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union (EU).  Monday, 11 July, a mere 18 days later, Cameron announced that he will step down in two days’ time and that Theresa May will become Britain’s next Prime Minister.  Think about that.  18 days to decide on the next leader.  Here in the U.S., we have been working on it for the better part of two years, and very intensely so for the past 13 months, with another four months to go until the actual election!

cameron-may“I’m delighted that Theresa May will be the next prime minister. She is strong, she is competent, she is more than able to provide the leadership that our country is going to need in the years ahead, and she will have my full support,” Cameron said.  Such politeness, so much dignity.  On Wednesday, Cameron will hand the keys to 10 Downing Street to Ms. May.  I imagine she will be busy packing for these next two days!

leadsomWhat I find even more amazing, particularly in light of the venomous campaign that has been going on forever here in the U.S., is that Ms. May’s chief opponent, Andrea Leadsom, graciously stepped down from her candidacy, saying the country could not afford a drawn-out political contest and needed to launch quickly into the complicated bargaining with the European Union over the split.  Can you picture either Hillary Clinton or Donnie Trump stepping down voluntarily and, again, graciously, for the good of the nation?  Just the thought of it makes me laugh.

It is also interesting to note that in the environment of modern-day populism that triggered Brexit, the vote to resign from the EU, Ms. May voted to remain in the EU, while Ms. Leadsom supported leaving.  Nonetheless, Ms. May stated in no uncertain terms that she will now do everything in her power to ensure a smooth and timely transition from the EU.  Can you picture Donnie Trump saying that he will do everything in his power to help provide a smooth path for immigrants to become citizens?  Hardly.

politePerhaps Ms. Leadsom would have stood a better chance had she not stated that the reason she is more qualified than Ms. May is because she has children, while Ms. May does not.  That is not necessarily the most important qualification for such a high-level position, and it doomed her campaign almost from the start.  She later apologized for the remark and then resigned her campaign.  Why can’t Americans be that polite?

The other two potential candidates, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, both spoke in support of Ms. May, and Gove said that she should be allowed to take office as soon as possible.  Why cannot we have such expedient and peaceful transitions of power here in the U.S.  Oh yeah … it’s that “We The People” thing.  In Britain, the office of Prime Minister is not established by the Constitution, but rather is appointed by the Queen, based on the candidate considered most likely to gain a vote of confidence from the House of Commons.  While I am a great supporter of the U.S. Constitution, in recent years there are some portions that I have come to question.  This election year, in particular, has given me doubt that a general election by the population is the most effective method for selecting a president.  Britain’s method seems more civilized, more effective, and in the long run leaves the country with far less turmoil.

Of course I am not advocating for a change in the way we elect our president, because as I said, I support and believe in our foundation of government.  However, I am advocating for bringing more civility into the process.  It is no wonder that most Europeans consider the Brits to be significantly more civilized than us “damn Yankees”!  They are!  Aside from the whole election process, they do not encourage, nor even allow every man, woman and child to own guns.  Guns are tightly regulated, and as a result, they have one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world!

How can we make our election process more civilized?  We The People must stand against the violence, the name-calling, the dirty politics that define the process.  We must call on our candidates to speak only of ideologies and policies, not personal affronts against other candidates.  We The People must act like civilized beings before we can expect our political candidates to do so.  We must learn to speak softly and to walk away from those candidates who act more like hyenas than humans.  And perhaps most important of all, we must send a message to the media that we do not want to hear playground rhetoric, but are only interested in serious political discourse.  We must learn to turn off CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and the “big three”.  When they lose viewers, their ratings drop, and when their ratings drop, they lose advertisers, and when they lose advertisers, they go broke.  When the media realize that viewers will not tolerate the venom and will turn off their sets, they will stop covering events where candidates cannot act like civilized human beings.  And when they do that, the politicians will not be heard and presumably they will eventually get the message.

Is all of that nothing more than a pipe dream, a fairy tale?  Sadly, probably so.  As a nation, we staunchly defend our rights to be crass, our rights to kill people, our rights to be racist, bigoted and just plain stupid.  There are those of us who try to get our point across without violence, without spewing garbage, using instead our intellect.  We live in this nation too.  We pay taxes, work hard to try to make it a good place to live, to raise children, we vote, and we try to be good citizens.  But unfortunately, we appear to be outnumbered.  Think about it.

15 thoughts on “A More Civilized Way To Do Things

  1. I am an Englishman, who spends a lot of time in the USA, and who is proud to have a lot of American friends. I have learned that I must always accept Americans on their own terms, and never expect them to conform to English standards of conduct / morals / ethics / real politeness / mores…. It’s just not ‘American’ to be nice to one’s defeated political opponents, or to honestly work for the greater good rather than oneself.
    There are some things that Americans, Canadians, and Europeans don’t understand about the English, (Britain is overwhelmingly English ~ England accounts for 84% of UK population)
    1. The English don’t really like anyone who isn’t English ~ or at least doesn’t have English as their native language.
    2. The English do not like being told what to do by a bunch of ‘Johny Foreigners.’
    3. Especially the English don’t like Germans and the French.
    4. England is a very, very, traditional country.
    5. We are a Constitution Monarchy, the Queen is Head of State, and ultimately all power is vested in the Queen. (You have to understand our unwritten constitution to understand that one.)
    6. The Prime Minister serves only so long as he has a majority in the House of Commons, and has the confidence of Parliament and the People.
    Cameron had to goand Corbyn has no chance of becoming Prime Minister.
    Makes no sense at all does it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • #2 I was aware of and though I often fail, I try to be ever-mindful of this and not step too hard on any English toes. #3 I did not know! #4 I did know. #5 I read and study, but I shall never understand your unwritten constitution! 🙂

      It makes no sense, but then it makes every bit as much sense as U.S. politics! Overall, I still think you guys are much more polite than we here in the U.S.! And, as I mentioned in another comment, at least you don’t go about shooting each other just for the heck of it! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You are right about the Constitution. It’s an outdated document and needs drastic revision in light of such things as PACs and corporations. Those sorts of things simply weren’t on the horizon in the 18th century. And I do believe the brits are more “civilized” even though the main reason they pulled out of the EU seems to be the same sort of bigotry we are seeing over here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, the same populist movement that gave rise to Brexit has enabled da trumpeter to be where he is, and in Austria there is Hofer, and Marine Le Pen in France. It is spreading … and I think it will continue to do so. I cannot even begin to predict where it ends … but I think changes are coming all around the globe.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Don’t know if this is related to the post or not but i had a discussion a while ago with a friend about democracy and voting and allowing everyone to vote. He argued for there to be restrictions in who can vote. I thought that was elitist. However, the recent Brexit referendum had me agreeing to an extent to my friends suggestion, especially after some really laughable reasons were given by some leave voters as the reason they voted.

    I guess I’m saying Britain is hardly the best example right now of how a government should be run

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have a couple of good points here! First, as to certain restrictions on voting … I have long said there should be some form of qualifying test, that a voter should at least have a basic idea of how government operates and a basic constitutional literacy. But alas, I am way outnumbered on that! Second, yes, I think Brexit may have been an unintended mess from the start, and I suspect that if the vote were held today, the outcome would be different. The new populism movement is for change … just … change. Not necessarily for the better, but just … change! Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

          • If the Parliamentary Conservative Party did not think that May was; #1 capable of holding onto a majority in the House of Commons, #2 Sucessfully fulfilling the office of Prime Minister #3 Winning a General Election, they would have walked away from her as fast as the Parliamentary Labour Party is rejecting Corbyn.
            May is only Prime Minister for so long as she can meet all 3 of those requirements ~ she could fall just as fast as Cameron, and that would undoubtedly trigger a General Election, which would undoubtedly reinfoce the English majority for Brexit. The English public really don’t give a stuff what anyone else thinks, including the Scots, Welsh, Irish, (on both sides of the border), Americans and Europeans.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to say that – although I can see the logic in your argument – many people in Europe are not so charmed by the “British way” at the moment. The whole chaos around the referendum and the Brexit is nothing I would recommend… and many of the political leaders in the UK did not exactly behave in a commendable way. The way they let go of two of the big slogans of the Brexit-camp immediately after the referendum: that tasted really foul. And Mr. Farage, after stepping down from being “the face” of the Brexit, said he will continue to sit in the EU parliament as long as he can, helping the EU dig its own grave (his words, not mine), at keep getting paid and accumulating pension…. All I can say it that I do not want to pay for the pension of Mr. Farage! … But I am getting carried away. I see your point – the British have a way to behave in a very civilised manner. (But I am still not happy about the way they are conducting their politics in recent times.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I know you are right. The whole Brexit issue … I have tried to steer clear, for one because I have readers on both sides of that fence, and also because I am aware that no matter how much I educate myself, I can never fully understand all the nuances of that situation. But I hear what you are saying and I agree … there is far more to the issue, it is far more complex than what I have presented here. Alas … at least Cameron and May are so nice to each other … they are not hurling and spewing hatred in each others faces as certain people here in this country are. We are getting tired of all the hot air being played on the trumpet! Well, at least I am. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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