Tuesday, November 14, 2006

With this change, will it be any better?

There's a great deal of jubilation at the result of the American elections – with the Democrats winning control of Congress and scraping-in to sieze the Senate with a two-seat majority. It is particularly apparent in the blogs I read, including Barista and Emunctory, and the coverage of the elections in The Age treats it as a trouncing of the Republicans, and a strong rebuke to Bush's policy on Iraq.

For me, however, the initial satisfaction at the Republican's loss gave way to missgivings as I wondered if things would be very different with the Democrats in power in Congress. Mike at Peasants are Revolting shares some wariness as well, including a concern that the Democrats will fall prey to the lure of power.

My concerns are that the Democrats are still a mainstream political party with only some semblance of a social welfare/pro-labour platform. Yes, they may be against the war in Iraq, they may act more quickly to tackle global warming, and they may reverse the decline in working conditions and social equality in the US. Our jubliation that they are NOT the Republicans, and NOT under Bush's thumb should not cloud our capacity to assess them critically. Somehow, the Democrats' record on foreign policy does not fill me with great hope.

After all, the Democrats – under Clinton – gave us the US prevarication over Somalia (which led to the half-aresed invasion and withdrawal, leaving a crazy situation there), ignored the bloodshed and genocide in Rwanda and Bhurundi (until it was too late, virtually), and the NATO bombing of Kosovo and Serbia (because they couldn't think of how else to tackle Milosovich before he went on the warpath). And if you look at it closely, the Democrats, under that much lauded Kennedy, are the ones who go the US into the intractable messes in Vietnam and the rest of Indochina in the first place. And the Cuban missile crisis!

I'm feeling better already.

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At November 14, 2006 11:02 pm, Blogger unique_stephen said...

I'm sure that, sooner or later http://www.ejectejecteject.com/ will have something to say that I, <pause /> just <pause /> barely, <pause /> almost, like, before I repeal the right wing turn and jump firmly back to the bosom of the centre left social democrat.

At November 15, 2006 9:22 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That doesn't paint cause for a great deal of optimism I must say. I'm hoping that the growing disillusionment amongst Democrat and Republican voters will eventually result in the emergence of a viable third party presence. Otherwise the US will continue to see the game of waxing and waning from one major party to the other, and re-runs of the same arguments and controversies over and over.

Incidentally, when I say viable I mean a party in which the masses actually place their faith (and vote). There are quality third parties out there already after all, but the majority of the country doesn't vote for them.

To many a vote for a third party in the US is a wasted vote - because unfortunately the preference system that we have in Australia doesn't exist in the US. So if your candidate of choice doesn't win the election your vote cannot be allocated to someone else.

As a result you see more pragmatic voting rather than idealistic voting, in which people settle for the lesser of two evils rather than the candidate/party they truly believe in.

If the preference system were introduce I strongly suspect we'd see a big change in the political party landscape in the US.

At November 15, 2006 10:47 am, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Thanks guys. Your comments have helped inspire a whole new post on the matter.


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