Tuesday, December 05, 2006

American Election

(from Nov 9, 2006)

On Tuesday, the Americans held an election. Their system of government, mildly more complicated (and considerably more influenced by lobbying cash), held two important levels of election.

The Senate, a law-making body of 100 senators, elected one third of its members. The House of Representatives, with considerably more members, flushed itself clean and elected some 435 members. Both of these levels of government were controlled by the party of George Bush, the party that calls itself Republican. Both of these levels of government are now in the control of the Democrats, the part they call "left wing" in the United States, but would be called "right wing" anywhere else in the world. It only appears "left" relative to what we in Canada would call the "extreme right" of the Republicans.

What does this mean? Technically speaking, it's going to make things harder for Bush. Where before the Republican House and Senate would vote on laws and Bush would sign them, those two bodies will now produce "left-leaning" Democratic legislation, which the President can always veto (requiring a larger majority to override the veto). So we should all dance in the streets, right? No more unilateral invasions of random countries? No more Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan? We'll have less combative policies out of the U.S. regarding North Korea, Iran? We'll have fewer wars over hydrocarbons?


Left and right are all matters of degree. In Canada, we have Conservatives, whom we expect to represent the interests of fairly rich people and corporations. We have Liberals, whom we expect to represent the middle class workers, but who increasingly represent rich people as well. We have the NDP, whom we expect to represent the working class. In the U.S., it's not the same. The Republican party represents the extraordinarily rich, the CEOs - the richest of the rich whom George Bush calls his "base". The Democrats represent, actually, almost the exact same people, all they do get the support of trade unions and other organizations on the basis that they're not quite as bad as the Republicans.

But look at the facts: most Democrats voted for the war in Iraq; no Democrat has come out against it; when Clinton was president, he maintained the debilitating, starving sanctions in Iraq and approved the invasion of Kosovo. If you're expecting massive change, don't look here. Don't expect any attempt to disengage the North American mouth from the Middle Eastern oil teat. Don't expect to see all those permanent bases in Iraq pull up stakes. Oh, there'll be a bone thrown to the poor - an increase in the minimum wage. There'll be some window dressing regarding 9/11. But will the black site prisons in Eastern Europe be shut down? Will the prisoners in Gitmo get their trials? Will the torture stop at Abu Ghraib? Will the "Oil Exploration" welfare be diverted to research in to solar and wind power?

Of course not. The two parties in the United States are owned by, basically, the same groups of people - oil barons and arms manufacturers. The Democrats won't be as bad, but don't expect massive change.

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