Rabble editor Meagan Perry, after hearing my last contribution to rabble radio, accused me of loving Canada too much.

I told her to blame it on the poutine.

But seriously folks. . . 

From the 28Jan09 Toronto Star:

Speaking today from a Tim Horton’s in his riding in Whitby, Ont., Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said his spending plan reflects what Canadians want and need now.

Well, OK, first of all, no one here buys what Flaherty is putting down but I had to love the fact that a government minister could hold court in a Tim Horton’s.

That reminded me of someone.

Way back (I mean wayyyy back) in 1978, current US Representative Dennis Kucinich was Mayor of Cleveland, my home town. 

He regularly conducted business, and met the media, in a place called Tony’s Diner on Cleveland’s West Side (still there on W.25th Street).

As Time Magazine once wrote:

A maverick Democrat with a strong anti-Establishment bias, he has built his power base among poor and working-class voters. Says he: "They need someone to stand up and fight for them." Once he even invited Cleveland’s civic leaders to breakfast with him at Tony’s Diner, where he has eaten for years. His usual order: two bowls of Special K with bananas and a steak, which the waitress cuts up for him to save him time.

I only mention these things to reflect on what has been lost, at least in the USA, in the last 30 years. While American politicians generally hit diners and burger joints while campaigning (like the famous Hamburg Inn in Iowa City, IA), they generally no longer get close enough to average people to allow them to saunter over to a table and ask them a pointed question.

I can’t imagine such a thing today but perhaps somewhere, out there, there’s a major US politician who hangs out in a working person’s greasy spoon, pressing the flesh, talking to reporters, and getting a generally unhealthy yet satisfying meal.

Not that Flaherty gets a pass for hanging out at Timmy’s. But it does seem to me that, over the years, Canadian politicians and political figures have remained fairly close to their constituents while American pols have grown more distant. 

Perhaps it’s the paranoia about ‘too many nuts out there’ in our gun culture or the rise of the political handler class which so carefully packages the politician inside a bubble from which no unpleasantness may either intrude or eminate from. I don’t know.

But I found this double-double induced press-pol meeting a wistful reminder about how politics was supposed to work in a democracy.

Keith Gottschalk

Keith Gottschalk

U.S. Keith Gottschalk has written for daily newspapers in Iowa, Illinois and Ohio. He also had a recent stint as a radio talk show host in Illinois. As a result of living in the high ground...