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"Five things we have learned..."
by Joan Eyolfson Cadham

Joan Eyolfson Cadham Photo

Note: Two of the American newspapers online that I followed in the run up to the election constantly run "Five things we have . . ." So, here is my own take on the five things that Canadians might have learned if they were still awake Tuesday night/Wednesday morning to hear Mitt Romney's concession speech.

1. When it comes to elections, be grateful that you live in Canada.

In the USA, citizens were not just voting for a President and members of the federal House and Congress. They were also electing state Governors, sheriffs, judges, mayors, school commissioners and other county officials. As well, state governments added referendums on a variety of topics. In Florida, where results of a Tuesday election will not expected to be known until Friday at the earliest, there were 10 complicated referendums and pages and pages of ballot which sometimes jammed up the voting machines. Voters said it took up to 30 minutes to fill out the entire ballot. Wait times to vote ran up to seven hours and several people simply left. In at least some polling stations, there were no bathrooms. The equivalent in Canada (don't even think about it) would be to pick one day to elect all our provincial governments, all our municipal governments, all our Rural Municipality governments, and, at the same time, elect all the Mounties who would serve our community as well as holding our federal election.

2. Money still doesn't buy votes.

When it's all added up, the American election cost about six billion dollars. Much of that money was spent by third party organizations, the Super PACs, who won a 2010 Supreme Court decision allowing the big spenders to give unlimited amounts to outside groups. However, immediately following the results, the howls could be heard across the country, as the big rollers looked for someone to blame for their wasted cash. "The billionaire donors I hear are livid," one Republican operative told The Huffington Post. "There is some holy "shucks" to pay. I don't know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing."

3. Misinformation, stretching the truth, lying (pick your choice of word) doesn't buy votes.

Romney needed Ohio to win. He ran an ad that claimed that, in spite of the Obama bailout of the auto industry, Chrysler was moving production of its Jeep brand to China. Chrysler's CEO sent out a memo saying, "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." Instead of saying, "Oops, I was wrong," Romney continued running the ad. He lost the state.

4. Looking backwards and listening only to yourself is dangerous.

Republicans wrote off any danger to their campaign. Obama had the Latino vote but there was no need to chase them because they wouldn't bother voting, their pundits agreed. Romney had the women, and the white older men, and the Jewish population, dead solid. Young people also wouldn't vote. They never did. And the blacks were mad at Obama because he hadn't given them enough handouts. Oops. African Americans, Jewish Americans, Latinos, women and young people came out in droves. They voted for Obama. The white older men voted for Romney, but there weren't enough of them.

5. What if, what if, what if?

There was one glorious moment, when the Republican Governor of New Jersey and the Democrat running for re-election as President hugged each other, toured stricken areas together, and promised to work together, politics entirely aside. What might have happened, in the waning days of the campaign, if the politicians and the Super PAC people had all come together, shook hands, patted one another's backs, and said, "No more commercials. No more TV time. We will pack up all the left over millions of dollars and, rather than spending that money on last-minute attack ads, we send it to New Jersey, to New York, to Virginia, to where it can actually make a difference?