A Canadian's perspective on domestic and international issues. Independent coverage of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections and anything of interest in Canada.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

US Midterm and a Rummy on the Run

There’s a feeling of relief here in North America as the American people have finally shown some repulsion towards the war-like ways of their Republican Party. Many of us have been wondering when the residents of that so-called “civilized” state would stand up to the tyranny of their leaders. The feeling is somewhat bouyed by this morning’s news that the hawkish Donald Rumsfeld has decided to leave office, and we can only hope it is the first of a long line of Bush-men who will flee their boss.
However, the joy and relief is short lived. From our perspective here in Canada it is clear all the US citizenry have really done is replace one bunch of millionaire lawyers for another bunch, albeit a bunch that appears, on the surface anyway, to be less inclined towards international thuggery and bloodletting.
It is, at best, a step in the right direction. But unless the next step is to get rid of both the Republicans and Democrats, and elect a full slate of independents two years down the road, the move will come out more as a dance, in the safe confines of US imperialism, than a march in any new direction.
Until Americans stop rewarding the economic elite by furnishing them with offices on Capital Hill, nothing is really going to change. For so long as the send representatives of the rich and powerful to Washington, then the plight of ordinary citizens struggling to make ends meet will continue.
Really, this new mob is no better than the old mob, and their politics are not all that different. All of them depend on money from large corporations and affluent business interests to bankroll their candidacies. And when they reach the hill, it is the interests of their financiers that will be formost on their agendas. Americans are not about to see a national health care system, education and opportunities for their poorest citizens, an end to worldwide strong-arming, or any sort of strong environmental legislation, especially one that forces major corporations to change the way they do business.
What is more likely to come of all this is a softening in Republican rhetoric, a slight increase in education funding, and a slow retreat from Iraq. They may also see less and less of their president, who will now focus on trying to make himself look more presidential, more benevolent, and less agressive, which for George W. Bush will not be easy.
While the Democrats are likely to curtail some spending on the military, they are not about to do anything that could seriously affect US military mite. They won’t be stopping the US war machine from building bombs and selling them straight to the highest bidder. And while they are likely to put forward a few bills to strengthen environmental policy, we’re not going to see them take any drastic steps towards curtailing their consumption of fossil fuels, or forcing serious polluters to do anything more than mildly decrease emmissions. They may challenge some of Bush’s foreign policy, but in the end they won’t want to be seen as doing anything to diminish the US role as “saviour of the free world.”
And should the Democrats somehow manage to parlay the ‘06 midterm win into a presidential win in 2008, don’t be expecting the new president to do much more than appoint a few moderates to the supreme court and be a little more diplomatic in their approach to foreign policy. They will not change their policy on Iran, Isreal, Palestine or even North Korea, although they may change their rhetorical approach. Remember, since November 1963 the military industrial complex in the US has been running the show, and that’s not about to change so long as either major party holds the reigns of power.
The only thing that will really change America is if power is somehow wrestled from the grasp of big oil and big money, and that’s not likely to occur in a state where you pretty much have to have millions of dollars just to get elected to a national position. Money rules in America, and like Woody Guthrie lamented, you ain’t nothing if you don’t have the “dough ray me.”
Until then, and that may be for a long long time to come, the shift in power we witnessed in the US on November 7, 2006 will be little more than a song and dance routine, like the Virgina Reel, where the caller first has the boys step up, then the girls. In the end its just a dance and everyone is moving to the same tune.
In the end its not the dancers who call the tune, its the band. And as long as the tune is being played by wealthy industrialists and big corporations, Americans, and the rest of us, are just going to go round in circles.


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