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Posts Tagged ‘republican’

Sanity prevails in the USA

Months and years of campaigning, more than$2.2 billion in election spending, over 100 million votes cast… and Americans in their wisdom decided to essentially maintain the status quo. President Obama returns to the White House for a second mandate. The Senate stays blue; the House stays red. But lest anyone was thinking that this whole thing was a giant waste of time, remember that it beats the hell out of the alternative.

I was on a plane for most of the evening, and while I was able to watch the results come in on satellite TV (thanks, WestJet!), I didn’t have internet access so no liveblogging of results. It was like a throwback to the pre-Web 2.0 years when you actually had to rely on traditional media sources for information. Well, unless you’re Barack Obama, author of the Tweet heard around the world.

The big vote

The race was close all night, but the nail-biter didn’t materialize. While both candidates were neck-and-neck in the popular vote for much of the evening, most of the highly contested swing states went one by one to Obama: New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia were called one by one for Team Obama. You could see the wind go out of the sails in the Romney camp as each one was declared, but Ohio finally solidified things shortly after 11pm ET. At that point, it was all over but the fat lady, whose singing will be heard in Florida just as soon as all those folks standing in line have a chance to vote.

Latest US election results 2012, as of 2:30AM ET on Nov 7th. Source: CNN.

So what happened to give the Obama team such a wide margin of victory, despite a 7.9% unemployment rate and widespread anger and disillusionment with the status quo?

Read the rest of this entry »

Palin won’t run

Sarah Palin won’t run for President in 2012:

After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States. As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.

If there is a god, he’s probably applauding this decision. Though not for the reasons that Palin might have assumed.

Tina Fey, on the other hand, must be disappointed.

And on the issues front

The sweeping gains made by Democrats tonight only tell half the story. There were also a number of issues votes that, if nothing else, indicate that the country is feeling more anti-Bush right now than pro-Liberal. For example:

  • Constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage won approval in South Carolina, Tenessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, with similar amendments on the ballot in 4 other states also expected to pass once the votes are tallied. This would mean that a total of 28 states – more than half – will have banned gay marriage in the U.S., delivering a serious blow to the hopes of people in favour of equality and civil rights.
  • Arizona passed measures against illegal immigrants, including making English the state’s official language.

On the other hand:

Some analysts have further noted that, though Democrats made significant gains, they may have done so at the expense of ideology, since many of the newly-elected Democrats are much more moderate than Liberal while many of the defeated Republican incumbents were on their party’s more moderate wing. So the House (and possibly the Senate) may have shifted to the left, but both parties actually shifted to the right in the process.

What will it all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

The halfway-there elections

Tomorrow’s U.S. midterm election is garnering way more attention than this non-event typically gets. The prospect of the Democrats taking back one or maybe even both houses has got a lot of people talking, but it’s really the same old nonsense, rehashed.

If the Democrats take control of the House (somewhat likely) and/or the Senate (highly unlikely) tomorrow, will that mean Bush will be relegated to lame duck status? Is tomorrow’s vote pivotal for gays/women/minorities/Iraq, or will it really not change very much? If the Democrats win some power, will they use it to legislate, or will they use it to launch a bunch of costly and pointless probes and investigations into Republican behaviour that will make voters sigh and roll their eyes at the endless scandal circus?

What will the results spell for 2008? Will it scare Republicans into a voter backlash, or will it energize the Democrats and give them momentum?

Personally, I hope that the Democrats gain control of Congress at least, not because I’m particularly disposed to favour one side or the other (I’ve already spelled out my objections to the giant either-or wedge in American politics numerous times) but because, on principle, I believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely. I’ve seen what happens too many times with the lack of a strong enough opposition. The Canadian Liberals, for instance. Even my years at Concordia were instrumental in demonstrating the pitfalls of having too much power concentrated in too few hands. The Bush administration has had a blank cheque for quite some time now, and it’s time to instill some checks and balances in the form of a more powerful opposition.

Basically, what it boils down to is my belief that the more handcuffed a government is, the less it will be able to do… and, hence, the less harm it will be able to do. Like doctors, government officials ought to be required to swear an oath of office that begins with “first, do no harm”. But, since they don’t, the next best option is to limit their power as much as possible.

Too much power

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.

What if . . .

Gore had won the 2000 election?

The game of “what if” can be endless and pointless but it can also be fun. So I was thinking about what might have happened if the outcome of the 2000 election was different. What if the whole Florida ballot scandal never happened and Al Gore was voted into office in 2000?

In light of the events of the past few years, a lot of people might think that this would have been the worst possible thing for the US. But I’m not so sure. Because September 11th, 2001 would have happened no matter who was in the White House. Clearly, the US government had to strike back. Republican or Democrat, no US president could have reacted otherwise to an attack on American soil. The speeches might have been worded differently, but ultimately the reaction against Al Qua’eda and against the Taliban would have been military, just as it was – swift and decisive.

Where the difference might have come in is in events since. Oh sure, you could argue that a Democratic government might not have attacked Iraq. There’s no way to really know but I somehow doubt that’s the case. Faced with the same situation, the same set of facts, and the same military procedures, I have a feeling any government would have come to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein needed toppling. The world is a different place than it was in 2000.

So then what? Right now we have a polarized US – indeed, a polarized world. Bush is, to all but his supporters, only about a step worse than the devil incarnate. The decisions of his government are easily attacked and dismissed as hawkish, right-wing, gun-slinging Texas cowboy acts, when in truth Bush is merely acting on the advice of the experts 99% of the time. But as a Republican, he’s an easy target.

But a Democrat making those kinds of decisions? Well, he’d be a bit tougher to attack, wouldn’t he? For one thing, there would probably be a lot of money directed to CYA reports on politically-correct issues to try to appease the naysayers. For another thing, where would the Left go, after abandoning Gore? To the Republicans?

Ironically, it would probably have been a lot easier for Gore to get United Nations support and backing than it was for Bush. And as a result, the anti-American sentiment that is so heightened right now in Europe and around the world might not be nearly as prominent. It’s one of the paradoxes of politics, that a dovish leader has an easier time making war, just as a hawkish leader has an easier time making peace.

Is this what would have happened if a few hundred ballots in Florida were counted differently in 2000? Short of inventing a time machine and changing the past, we obviously can’t know. There are too many variables. But with the next election coming up in a little over a year, it makes interesting food for thought.

Rightward shift for American Jews?

The Canadian Jewish News has a story about how increasing numbers of American Jews are breaking the traditional alignment with the Democratic party and moving rightward.

We are now experiencing “a very explosive moment in Jewish politics,” one that is rocking the traditional Jewish affiliation with the Democratic party and creating an undercurrent of anti-Semitism, said Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic magazine.

[ . . . ]

For the left, the methods employed are of secondary importance to the otherwise justified anti-imperialist struggle, so the Palestinian use of suicide bombings are seen as no more than a “misguided tactic,” Beinart said.

Beinart described how traditionally liberal U.S. Jews have recoiled from that view and how they are moving away from their traditional liberal affiliations.

[ . . . ]

With the outbreak of the current intifadah, “this consensus started to crack. The liberal media have gone in one direction and the Jewish community has gone in another. The liberal media have gone left and the Jewish community has gone right.”

One of the reasons I find this so interesting is that I don’t think much has changed on the side of the Republican party. All the reasons that many Jews didn’t vote Republican before still exist. If anything, the party has become even more conservative. The party is still heavily mortgaged to interest groups such as the NRA and the far-right Christian lobby groups.

But now the same people who were wearing Gore-Lieberman kippot in shul on Rosh Hashanah 2000 are switching sides. And to me, what that indicates is not so much a shift in the population, but a shift in the issues.

Nobody agrees with a political party on every single issue. It’s impossible. So people tend to focus on the issues most important to them at the time, and vote for the party that is closest in position to their take on those issues. There’s no question that in the wake of September 11th, the outbreak of mideast violence, the escalating situation in Iraq, and the general shift in international politics, we’re living in a different world. So while four years ago, people might have chosen the party they felt most closely reflected their views on social and domestic issues (i.e. the Democrats), now suddenly foreign policy is the key issue and the Republicans seem to have the more sensible position on that score.

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