It was nice and all, but what does it mean for me?

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Democrats are quite rightly basking in an almost sexual afterglow today after giving it to the Republicans big time. They have forced themselves upon the House of Representatives, and look very much like they are about to have their way with the Senate as well. Today, their members are standing tall...

Okay, I'm going to drop that particular metaphorical line and move on...

So, good news to our progressive cousins down south, but what does all this mean to us, the average hosers of this Great Dominion?

Well, for starters, it will mean that Stephen Harper won't have the same number of ideological allies to suck up to in the U.S., and that is a good thing. Sure, George Bush gets to live in the White House for another two years as a angry dim-witted dry drunk, but as his star rapidly fades, so too will any chances that Harper will be pressured into nonsensical schemes like ballistic missile defense. As the Republican agenda withers on the vine, so too will its chances of being imported to Canada.

It should also be noted that this election was a resounding rebuke of neoconservatism's signature event: the War in Iraq. Despite the desperate scramble by neocons to put the blame entirely on Bush incompetence, the War in Iraq was their baby from the beginning, and was a stupid idea from the word go. This election marks the twilight of neoconservatism as a credible philospohy, so Harper's brain trust in the Calgary School will now have to find a less idiotic guiding philosophy, like say tantric flying.

But it is also worth noting that there could be some down sides to having the Democrats in power in the house and Senate. The National Post (natch) is quick of the mark with a story that raises the specter of increased protectionism.

OTTAWA - Free trade between Canada and the U.S. could resurface as a thorny issue after the Democratic party won an influential swath of Washington's political real estate Tuesday night, said a former ambassador to the United States and political adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Derek Burney, who was posted to Washington under Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney in 1989, said that on the issue of trade with Canada "there's not much good news" that can come from the election result because Democrats are more likely to bring a "protectionist" bent to their work in Congress, as opposed to Republicans who bring a "freer-trade mentality."

"Those lines are pretty blurry at the best of times, but despite the fact that Canadians seem to think that Democrats generally are closer to Canadians, on trade policy the situation is a bit different," said Burney, who organized Harper's transition to government after last January's federal election.

That's a possiblity, but I am not sure how large a possibility. The Republican believe in free trade only when there is a clear advantage for American industries or resource sectors. Otherwise, they simply ignore treaties and trade agreement and do what suits them. Can anyone imagine it really getting worse under the Democrats? Besides, as Alan Freeman notes in today's Globe and Mail, the more likely target for Democratic trade barriers is China, whose cheap labour has decimated the US manufacturing sector.

So, our world won't be rocked by what happened in the U.S. yesterday, but it will be improved in a hundred small ways, and a few large ways as well. For me personally, seeing the odious Bush humbled brought on a euphoric feeling I have not had since I gave up a close personal relationship with the bong after my university days, and watching one of the main architects of the disaster in Iraq fall on his sword is a sweet, sweet bonus.

Perhaps best of all, it shows that if U.S. progressives could prevail against a better financed rival and a hostile media environment, it gives us Canucks hope that our own descent into right wing hell may be short lived. Let us hope we do not have to descend to the depths to which our neighbours have sunk before we send Harper and his wingnuts packing.

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If we assume that the Repugnican slime machine was working overtime to steal the vote, and the Dems still won, imagine how much greater the actual victory should be.

I feel like a heavy burden has been lifted off me, and that at last, at last, reality and rationality may yet have their day in the sun. A big if, once things settle down to politics as usual, but yes, it is significant, for them and for us.

Eat that, Karl Rove!!!!! And you too, Stevie!!!!

And so the world is safe... but for how long?

"...seeing the odious Bush humbled brought on a euphoric feeling..." I had that feeling too.

Not meaning to burst the "Conservatives are evil neocon monsters and we'll prove it as soon as we can come up with a working definition of 'neocon'" bubble you've got going here, but Harper is still pretty far left of all but the biggest name Democrat crazies (Sheenan/Obama/McKinney/Abercrombie/Woolsey/Kucinich/Capuano). None but Layton's grandest of spin-doctors would dare make the slightly-odious claim that Harper has been outflanked on the left by a party that still to its slight remaining credit includes John Salazar, Tim Holden, and Robert Cramer.

Remember R-CALF? Remember that they and their sympathetic judges ended up going toe to toe with a Republican President, a Republican House Leader, and an Ambassador over the mad cow border shutdown? How do you think that would have played if there was somber-faced Pelosi anxious to score a cheap political victory over a President she irrationally despises?

If that last comment (from Feynman et al) was meant as satire, then well done. If not, then never mind.

Not that I'm saying I'm unhappy with the results, and not that I believe that Republicans in Congress or the White House have done much to push free trade that wasn't beneficial to them, but back in March 2005 the Senate voted on a joint resolution disapproving of the Department of Agriculture's attempt to soften the restrictions on cow imports from Canada during the BSE crisis. Notice how the vote split.

Neo-conservatives in the US may be in trouble, but I doubt they'll die out. And just because it's in trouble down there doesn't mean they're in trouble up here. Yelling Tax cuts tends to get votes. Cutting services that the wealthy don't use makes sense to the wealthy, and the wealthy fund politics, much less so here than there, (thank you so much Mr. Chretien for doing something right!) but it does activate their core of upper middle class voters and "small/impotent government" yahoos. The fact that many of the programs and groups such as the Legal Challenges and Status of Women were unknown to the majority of Canadians made them easy to cut, and even represented these programs as "unnecessary fat" and many people swallowed that, much like they swallow everything else that party spouts.
The Irony is that once the neo-cons in the south don't have the Iraq war hanging off their neck like an albatross-flavored albatross, and focus back on domestic and trade issues, they'll be back in charge again. unhgg.

Yo Yeti:

Speaking of the continued influence of neo-cons in politics .... I was just reading an interview with Noam Chomsky - he explained the rise of Christian fundmentalism (Muslem as well) and pointed out its' neo-con uses:

"These are all issues about which CEOs, for example, just don’t care very much. They care a lot about the other issues. And if you can shift the focus of debate and attention and presidential politics to questions quite marginal for the wealthy -- questions of, say, gay rights -- that’s wonderful for people who want to destroy the labour unions, or to construct a social/political system for the benefit of the ultra-rich, while everyone else barely survives."

The energy that once infused the world with ideas of social justice and economic opportinities that manifest itself in the creation of unions and universal health care and has been subverted; directed off into worries about some Apocalypse and (to quote Garner Ted) "THE WORLD TOMORROW."

The neo-con idea has expensive and extensive backing it is as deep as it is broad and, as you observe, is in no way close to being vanquished.


it was a sigh of relief, for sure. as for the dems and protectionsism, i'm not sure about the china trade when china holds so much of their debt, they may be obliged to stay on trading grounds with them.

for me it's like a lesser of evils...for no matter what it's still the u.s.a., and whether republican or democrat they've always had an interest in being a super power. now, cozying up to that is dependant on having a dem prez and lib p.m. (not that i want i lib pm, but i sure don't want a con). this interest has meant continuuing imperialism, no matter what stripes.

i think we've mostly been looking at things from the perspective of this being better for 1. iraq. 2. for us 3. for americans when the big picture is their system itself and the drive to keep that system going and dominating.

The election results provide more hope for the environment. The Democrats will control the House Resources Committee, affecting parks, public lands, water; and the Senate victory means they kick Inhofe, the climate change denialist, out of the Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Hopefully no drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; etc. Read all about it here:

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This page contains a single entry by Tim published on November 8, 2006 5:41 PM.

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