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.