Too much power

11.04.04

Bush winning the election is not what’s making me so uncomfortable. At least, it doesn’t make me any more uncomfortable than a Kerry win would have.

The trouble is, the combination of results that have given the Republicans another four years in the White House, significant gains in Congress and a virtual lock on the Senate all at the same time. That means that one side pretty much dominates all three houses – as opposed to the tenuous hold they had last term. And no matter what side the power is concentrated on, that is too much power for one team in a nation that is very much bitterly divided.

The GOP doesn’t have much to hold them back now. Despite the fact that nearly half the country didn’t vote for them, they have a popular vote win, a win on “their” issues in many direct questions, and pretty much a free rein to move the country even further to the right for the next four years – and, with Supreme Court appointments, for a long time after that.

Gay marriage is not an issue that should be decided by popular vote – because a majority shouldn’t get to decide to deny rights to a minority. But look for the Republicans to push ahead for a nationwide constitutional ban on gay marriage, for no good reason other than because many people find the idea distasteful. In fact, this issue probably helped Bush win the election, by encouraging Conservatives to go cast a vote. Similarly, abortion is once again in trouble. We can probably expect a woman’s right to choose being gradually chipped away in the next few years.

Many Kerry supporters are disappointed because they fear another four years of what they perceive to be devastating international policies by the Bush team. Personally, I’m much more concerned about the domestic American scene. In fact, the Democrats most likely lost this election by assuming Iraq was the only issue, and failing to make a strong case for their liberal values at home.

And with so much power concentrated on the Republican side, I admit I’m worried. I’d be just as worried if all the power were concentrated on the left. Either way, too much power in one camp with too few checks and balances is a dangerous thing.

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