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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Harper ignorant of parliamentary system

One of two things is happening. Either Stephen Harper does not understand how the parliamentary system within a constitutional democracy works, or he is trying to pull the wool over the average Canadians eyes.
In the parliamentary system if the majority of parliament have lost confidence in the governing minority, they are obligated to do one of two things, either force an election, or form a coalition to govern in place of the toppled minority.
The Governor General has an obligation to ensure workable government. After two dysfunctional minorities in a row, the option of asking the opposition to form a coalition is well within her mandate.
More people voted against Mr. Harper then for him, in fact, the majority did! That makes his ongoing argument that the people selected him to be Prime Minister, or that the people gave him an expanded mandate (because he picked up a few extra seats) is pure nonsense.
The majority of Canadian voters selected the opposition, so if the opposition can form a coalition, then it is they who should govern. Its not a crises, it happens in parliamentary systems everywhere. In fact, parliamentary systems are designed with minority rule and coalitions in mind.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

New Sign On BC's Political Road

I know one fellow who is probably not sleeping so good these days. He works in Victoria and lives in Point Grey.
All across the province this past Saturday, voters, though their numbers were small, came out against the status quo, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the election, almost by landslide, of left leaning councils in the province’s two major cities.
On top of that, in most jurisdictions across the province, voters have chosen to toss out their incumbent mayors and councils. While some moved right, most went left.
It may be that we here in BC have finally caught the “change” wave coming out of America. Or it could simply be that, historically, here in BC, we have a penchant for changing lanes every eight years or so, but the sign for the provincial government is clear.
“Dead End.”
For eight years the Socred-Come-Not-Quite-Liberal-Liberals, under the direction of the drunk driving Premier Gordon Campbell, have coasted to victory with their mantra of develop, develop, develop. Only when it has suited their electoral favour have they shown any sign of willingness to consider social and environmental issues. In the process, they’ve clearly become the government of the well healed.
Trouble is, all of a sudden, thanks in part to the global financial crisis brought on by link minded leaders in the USA, the well healed are becoming the minority. No longer is it just the poor and homeless who are against the trickle down theories of the provincial government, but they have now been joined by the “soon-could-become-poor-and-homeless” majority.
For years now the well healed in this province have been shielded from the struggle so many of the less well healed have been facing. In the course of time the provincial government has been able to take a “do-as-little-as-possible” approach to the concerns of the province’s struggling. They have been able to do little things, like give disabled people a $50 a month raise in benefits, and make themselves appear civic minded, or institute a carbon tax, that really only works in the cities, and make themselves appear environmentally consicious. When push has come to shove, they’ve been able to appear concerned about economics by issuing rebate cheques, or issuing minor tax cuts to the middle class.
But all of a sudden, there’s that sign again: Dead End.
For many of us, those with decent forsight, the sign has been visible for some time. It was there from the moment these guys came to office. The good news for us, and not so good news for the current government, is that they are finally seeing the sign. That’s what happens when you’re busy playing with your toys while driving. You miss the important road signs, until you’re either on top of them or whizzing by at too fast a speed.
If Gordon Campbell and his crew are going to keep driving, they are going to have to do a U-Turn on some pretty major issues, or they are going to find themselves over the same cliff they drove off way back at the end of the Vander Zalm era.
Not only are they going to have to do a U-Turn, but they are going to need to put the brakes on, do some serious shifting, and give the toss to some of those folks who’ve been riding for free, before they can successfully turn this car around.
Trouble is, it seems, we have an insomoniac drunk driver at the wheel, and those folks getting the free ride are some of his best friends. They are, afterall, the ones who gave him the car and its keys. They aren’t going to take kindly to him pulling over, dumping them, then heading back to town to pick up those of us he’s left behind. Worse even, not many of us are going to be willing to hop in with him. So, if he’s not really careful, he’s going to find himself all alone driving off a cliff, and everyone is going to be glad to see him go!
All metaphor aside, Gordon Campbell and the Liberal Party of BC, need to wake up, apply the brakes, stop a moment to get their bearings, then turn this car around. They are going to need to do something very real and tangible about healthcare, homelessness, the environment, poverty and a whole range of issues they’ve been ignoring while on their eight year joy ride.
And lets not forget, four years ago more than 50 percent of this province’s voters made it clear they wanted electoral reform, and favoured proportional representation. In other words, while they were willing to give the premier the keys, they wanted him to take a different road all together. He hasn’t, and its led him to where he is today, facing down that new sign.
“Dead End.”
If I were him, I don’t think I’d be getting much sleep either. I only hope in his insomnia, he isn’t too drunk to read.
Then again, I’d just as soon watch him go over the cliff! Afterall, he’s never offered me a ride.

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The mouse likes the cat (Harper happy about Obama

Sure he does!
Last week, Canada’s Prime Minister, Steven Harper, made much hullabaloo about how happy he was to see Barack Obama become president-elect of the USA.
Caution: Don’t be fooled again! Mr. Harper is about as happy to see Obama take the presidency as most of us would have been to have Sarah Palin one heartbeat from the Oval Office!
First of all, Stephen Harper is a Conservative, no, a right wing ideologue, who loves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and is against the whole concept of government funded health care, or anything else. Barack Obama on the other hand, is a moderate Liberal, intent on creating a healthcare system with strong governmental controls. He also wants to renegotiate NAFTA!
Based on those two points alone, Mr. Harper’s assertions, that he is pleased with Obama’s election, is nothing more than polite double speak, the sort we’ve unfortunately come to expect from our leaders.
When we really shine a light on the differences between Harper and Obama, the lie shines through. First, Democrats tend to be more protectionist than their Republican counterparts. As a result, and a rule, Republican administrations tend to be more lenient and cooperative with Canada. Then there is Iraq! Obama wants out of Iraq. Harper argued vehemently in favour of joining the US in Iraq! As large as the issues of healthcare and war are, there are many other differences between how these two leaders see the world. I will not take the time to list them now, it could take weeks.
Perhaps the more important question is not whether Mr. Harper likes Mr. Obama, but what Mr. Obama thinks of Mr. Harper.
Let’s remember, Mr. Harper once called George W. Bush, and his gang of “New World Order” cronies, a “light unto the world.” It wasn’t long ago that former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat and supporter of Obama, was accusing Mr. Harper of being aided, financially and otherwise, by right wingers and industrialists from the US! Then there is Mr. Harper’s long history of lobbying and support of right wing causes in the US and the world. These are just some of the differences of opinion and belief systems that put Mr. Harper and Mr. Obama in direct conflict with one another. The two, although not direct opposites, are about as similar to one another as dogs are to cats. While they may both have four legs, keen senses of smell, and furry coats, they are not at all alike, and the chances of them getting along, are slim to nonexistent.
And here’s the worst part of it: Mr. Obama is a man who does his homework. He’s going to have a book on Harper, and be well briefed on the Canadian PM’s positions on everything from hot dogs to missile shields. He will understand that Harper is a political adversary, one with a forked tongue and a penchant for low brow politicking. If he is worth his salt at all, then any association he has with Mr. Harper will have, at its core, a foundation of mistrust. The two will have conflicting positions on most issues. For Harper, it will be like dealing with a brighter more communicative, and far more secure in his position, Stephen Dion. For Obama, it will be like dealing with George W. Bush, minus Bush’s colloquial language style.
When it gets down to it, Mr. Obama is not going to like Mr. Harper at all, to the point where his famous ability to reach across the aisle is going to be seriously impaired. Sure Obama will reach out, and do everything he can to work with the Canadian PM, but he’s going be about as comfortable with Harper at the table as Jesus was with Judas at the Last Supper.
The relationship between these two leaders, from the outset, despite the rhetoric, is going be, at best, uncomfortable, and that’s before the issue of the current economic crisis even hits the agenda!
America is in its worst economic crisis since the days of FDR. As a result it will be inwardly protectionist on a level we’ve never witnessed before. Neither men are going to want to see homegrown industry relocating to the other’s domain, and will fight any legislation that has the portent to hurt their own industry. If it comes to a fight, Obama is going to mop up the street with Harper’s pallid pink and abundant flesh.
He is also going to recognize that Mr. Harper’s support here in Canada is at best, soft like his belly. Obama will see Harper for what he really is, a desperate politician fighting for his political life with a minority of support. Tie that in with their political differences, and it will be in Obama’s best interests to frustrate and stymie the Canadian PM at every turn. While they may remain polite in front of the cameras, and across the diplomatic table, in private the relationship is going to be about as amicable the one, nearly 50 years ago, between JFK and Deifenbaker, only worse.
When Mr. Harper said all those nice things about Mr. Obama last week, he was doing what politicians are predisposed to doing, lie through their teeth. He was also doing something else we’ve sadly come to expect from him, trying to hitch a ride on the popularity of the new President’s coat tails. He won’t get far.
In my opinion, Mr. Harper would have been better off to take a hard line. It would have been wiser for him to express his disappointment, and challenge to the new president on his assertion to renegotiate NAFTA, on protectionism, Arctic sovereignty and any number of other issues the two will disagree on. He should have taken an aggressive stand, and made the new President come to him with the olive branch. Instead, he will now be the one who is challenged to back up his rhetoric with action. It is Harper who will now have to come forward bearing the olive branch, which, in very real terms, will be like the mouse going to the cat pleading, “please don’t eat me!”
Truth is, the mouse knows it is trapped, that’s the only reason it is playing nice. The mouse is clever, it knows niceness is its only hope. Trouble is, the new cat is a lot smarter and far more agile than its predecessor.
In the end, Mr. Obama, in true cat fashion, will let the mouse play a while, maybe give it a bat once in a while when it begins to wander out of reach, but when the crunch comes, and it will, that mouse is going to be toast.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Don't dance on the tables quite yet!

I remember a November night way back in 1972 when I sat in my Dad’s yard listening to the US election results on a transistor radio. I’d gone to Ontario to visit my family at the time, and was missing my friends in BC. As it became clear Richard Nixon had won, hands down, my longing to be with my friends grew more intense. It was a dark day for them, and for me, and I wanted nothing more than to be with them, commiserating in the fact a war monger was being returned to office.
Last night I thought of those friends again. I haven’t seen many of them in decades. In fact, I only know where one of them is today. Some are dead, most have moved on with their lives. I’m sad the ones who have passed on did not live to witness what happened last night. A man of colour has become President of the United States. They would have been pleased.
We grew up watching and listening to Martin Luther King. He was a hero to many of us. In those days we witnessed first hand how people of colour were treated. Images of “white only” signs were splashed across our TV screens. While most of these images originated in the States, we knew too well that people of colour were also prejudiced against here in Canada.
In Grade Six we had a teacher who was black. His family had come north to Canada on the Underground Radio. This man was a decent teacher, not a great one. Perhaps the thing that really stood out about him was, he wasn’t much different than most of our other teachers. Still, we’d fuss over him, and often pay more attention in class then we would other teachers, but it wasn’t because he was a better teacher. It was because he was a different colour.
I was eight years old when Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. At the time I was living in a foster home in Brantford Ontario. My foster parents at the time were pretty keen on keeping up with the world, and we’d all sit down after supper and watch the evening news together, often American news. They were also devoted Christians, members of the local United Church congregation. Each Sunday we would diligently attend both Sunday School and regular services, and we all took our teachings quite seriously. Hearing King’s rumbling resonant voice, I was convinced the man was a prophet. The words, “judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin” reverberated with me.
With the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, part of Mr. King’s prophecy has come true, but perhaps it is time we once again refer to the warning in his words. That warning is: The colour of a man’s skin has nothing to do with the content of his character!
Barack Obama is not Martin Luther King! He is the son of an African and a middle class white woman from Kansas. Barack Obama is not a church minister. He is a Harvard educated lawyer and former president of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Obama is not even a civil rights leader, but a former Illinois state senator, and a one term US Senator from Illinois. Barack Obama isn’t a socialist, a communist, or in any sense a radical. He is a moderate liberal with exceptional organizational and communication skills.
The election of a man of colour to the highest office in America is truly a historic event, and may well indicate that America, a racist country, has finally begun to look beyond skin colour. However, the election of a moderate liberal to the presidency really is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter and several others were moderate liberals. The only real difference between some of them, and the new president, is skin pigment, and people should not forget that.
While the election of Obama does indicate a change in US social conscience, it does not represent any drastic political change. And while it does demonstrate the American electorate’s desire to move away from the far right policies of the fledgling Bush administration, it does not mean a radical change in American political history.
Another thing for people to consider here is, while Obama and the Democratic Party did well in the electoral college, the popular vote only changed by a few percentage points. Almost as many people voted against Obama as voted for him. And while voter turnout jumped, almost as many new voters voted against the Democrats as voted for them. This was not a giant step to the left or right. It was a half step back, not a giant leap, away from the ideology of the past eight years. In fact, all things considered, the election of Barack Obama may well be considered a referendum on George W. Bush, more than a marked endorsement of the end of racism in America.
One of the more poignant moments in the election coverage last night, for me anyway, came just after Mr. Obama made his acceptance speech from Chicago. As Obama, Biden, and their families, stood on the stage waving at the crowd, a camera scanned the audience. There in the midst of it all stood former ML King supporter and Democratic presidential contender Jesse Jackson, openly weeping. Clearly, after his years of working with Mr. King, his decades in the civil rights movement, and his repeated attempts to end the culture of racism in the US, he was overjoyed to see a person of colour finally accepted. It was an emotional moment.
However, I found myself wondering, if Jesse Jackson had been the Democratic nominee, would the result have been the same. Somehow I doubt it. Mr. Jackson, for all his integrity, visibility, character, expertise, drive and qualifications, could not have won this race. In the minds of middle America, he would have been too radical and, I dare say, too black to have ever been elected to such high office! The election of Barack Obama does not signal an end to racism in America, it simply indicates that race is less of an issue than it once was.
It the truth be told, Mr. Obama would never have been elected if he’d preached a radical agenda. Had he come out against all war, and not just the war in Iraq, he would not have been elected. If he’d come out with a plan for universal healthcare, paid for by the state, he would not have been elected. If Obama has advocated welfare reform and argued for a guaranteed annual income, he would not have been nominated by his party, let alone elected nationally. If Obama had argued for wide spread strengthening of equal opportunity legislation, John McCain would be the President-elect of the United States! Chances are, if Obama had chosen black man, Jackson for example, to be his running mate, he would not be in the position he is in today.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as happy as anyone to see a person of colour elected to the presidency. The election of Obama clearly indicates that America has finally begun to view people according to the content of their character over the colour of their skin, but America has a long, long, way to go. Even with Obama at the helm, America is still the biggest threat to peace in the world. It remains an authoritarian superpower with a penchant for world domination. For all intent and purpose, Americans still be believe they are the biggest, the best, the most beautiful, and America still wants everyone else in the world to be just like it. America still has the most bombs, the most guns, and still meddles in the affairs of other countries. It still incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other nation on earth, and yes, it remains a racist country.
Yes, there is a change in America. Just as their is a change in a toddler when they break free of mother’s arms and take their first steps. America has a glow about it today, not unlike the glow on the face of a child who has walked a few steps for the first time. And yes, there is reason to celebrate, to be happy, to cheer them on.
However, taking a baby step in the right direction does not make a child a marathon runner, and like a runner in a marathon, America still has a long way to go, and no one really knows for sure if its up to the challenge.
The signs are good, and I will cheer them on, but it will be a long while yet before I do a victory lap, or go dancing on the tables.
Good start America, now where do we go from here?

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How McCain lost

John McCain would not have been a bad president. Contrary to Democratic spin, he would not have been another George Bush.
While he would have kept America in Iraq and Afghanistan, at home, McCain’s policies would have been far more liberal than projected. Remember, he would have had a predominately Democratic legislative wing to deal with, and any hardcore Republican policies would have been seriously tempered.
In retrospect, McCain’s strongest argument against Barack Obama was experience. It was an argument that had wings, and would have mattered when people went to the polling booth. Would have, until he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Regardless of all that’s been said about Palin, the one thing she really did to the McCain campaign, was remove the “experience” argument from the debate.
Had McCain chosen a more experienced running mate, perhaps a woman such as Elizabeth Dole, or someone from the middle, such as Joe Liebermann, or a former governor with more experience, a la Mitt Romney, the experience quotion would have remained in play.
Unfortunately for McCain, he chose inexperience, and ideology, catering to the hardcore right of his party, instead of reaching into the middle. The moment McCain made that decision, he also eliminated another major component of what made him attractive as a candidate. That component was his status as a “Maverick.”
John McCain gave into pressure from the Republican base. Mavericks don’t give in!
John McCain also gave in to the Republican base when he chose to run a “dirty” campaign. When his surrogate, including the Governor of Alaska, starting throwing around names like William Ayers, questioning the Illinois Senator’s religion and family origins, red-baiting, and patriotism, he lost something he’s always had throughout his many years in the Senate. That thing was his ability to reach across the aisle. When you start calling people “commies” and questioning their patriotism you don’t exactly encourage them to work with you.
When McCain laughed with the woman who called Hillary Clinton “that Bitch”, instead of challenging her, he alienated almost every woman who has ever been called by that name. When Sarah Palin did not respond to members of her audience when they shouted racist slogans, or called for Obama to be assassinated, the electorate, or many of them were sickened.
John McCain went along with his base because he thought it would win him the election. Once in office, I’m sure he meant to pursue the same policies and legislation he has championed his entire political career, including protecting the people from overt political intrusion by government. He would have sought money for education, and done what he could for the environment. In foreign policy, he would have chosen moderate secretaries of state and defense. The judges he appointed would have been less ideologically driven than those appointed by Bush.
John McCain would not have been George Bush. But when he picked up Bush’s team, and spouted Bush policy, and chose a VP George Bush would love, and began the politics of division, the real distinction between him and Bush became indistinguishable.
In the end, the only person to blame for John McCain’s failure to become President of the United States, is John McCain. A metaphoric gunslinger all his life, this time he shot himself in the foot, and injured feet don’t win marathons like this election has been.
John McCain could have gone down in history as a great president. Instead, he will be remembered for a failed campaign that was wrought with some of the most divisive politics and disturbing negativity ever.
The good news is: The Bush Era is over. Finally.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Hoping for Change

A wise old woman once told me, “if it looks, smells and feels too good, it probably is!”
Her words come back to me every time I hear the name Barack Obama!
As much as I’d like to see change in America, in its approach to the rest of the world, and in the way it treats its own citizens, and as much as I’d like to believe the rise of Barack Obama signals such change, I’m skeptical.
To be sure, its a great campaign the man has run. His response to the onslaught of false accusation and bigoted commentary has given me hope. I find his cool calm, and great charm, heartening. However, I have also noticed a few things that lead me to believe he’s not quite what he appears to be.
At the Democratic National Convention in Denver there were some rather nasty confrontations between protesters and police. These events were not widely broadcast by the media. In fact, they were buried in the avalanche of “good news” coming out of the convention.
In one particular incident a “Code Pink” protester, a young woman, was smashed across the face with a billy-club wielded by a Denver policeman. The cop called the woman a “bitch” as he knocked her bleeding to the ground. This event was emblematic of what was going on outside the confines of the convention centre.
After viewing the clip, I wrote to the Obama campaign and asked if they were aware what was going on out in the street. Pointedly, I asked if the Obama campaign supported such actions by police, and if the candidate supported the right to peaceful assembly and civil disobedience.
Mr. Obama’s campaign wrote back, but made no mention of the incident I reported to them. Instead, they asked me for a campaign donation!
When they failed to address my concern, I wrote back again. Again, they responded, asking for a donation, making no reference to my concerns. For weeks after, my mailbox was full of mail from Mr. Obama, Mrs. Obama, vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden, and even the campaign manager David Plouffe. Nowhere in any of these mailings was there a mention of the anti-American activities of the Denver Police, but every single e-mail asked for a financial contribution.
Now, I am quite aware the Obama campaign at the time, and through out the course of the election, must be receiving a lot of mail. It must take them weeks sometimes to get around to reading it all. But months have gone by and I’ve still not received any mail from them that in anyway addresses the content of my original letter. One would think, with all the money the Obama campaign has received, some of it would be used to address the mail, and to respond to any questions being asked. Had they, at any point, by any means, responded directly to my expressed concern, then I would have been encouraged to believe that Mr. Obama’s message of “hope” and “change” was, on some level, genuine.
My second concern arose when Mr. Obama gave his acceptance speech in a Denver football stadium. Much ado was made of the set design and Roman style columns used as a back drop. Clearly, a lot money and construction went into the set design for that event. ‘Is this an example of what Mr. Obama will do with any extra money he should come into?’ I asked myself. Later on, my concern that Mr. Obama would use financial contributions frivolously was reinforced when he spent several millions buying a half hour block of TV time, just ahead of a World Series baseball game. To me, the man just looked like another politician, using his surplus cash to make himself look good, if not extravagant.
The third issue that leads me to feel a tad ‘queasy’ about the potential of a President Obama comes through the ‘reverse-negative’ campaigning style employed by some of his surrogates. On web pages such as John Amato’s “crooksandliars.com” great hay has been made of Mr. Obama’s opponents age, wealth, personal life, and physical frailties. While it is true Mr. McCain has run a filthy campaign, full of lies, innuendo, race baiting, red baiting, smears, and outright misrepresentation of fact, I do not believe such activity should necessarily excuse any similar activity by the Democratic faithful. It is like Martin Luther King Jr. argued, we do not change behaviour by engaging in the same ruthless actions as our enemies. Moreover, when we stoop to level of our enemies, we make ourselves no better than them.
I wrote to Mr. Obama’s campaign about that too, and received the same response I’d received before. They did not address my concerns, but made sure to ask for a donation!
All this said, I find myself inclined to believe Mr. Obama is simply another politician who has found a way to win people over. He’s no Martin Luther King! Then again, he has not claimed to be! Barack Obama is a centrist, not quite Liberal, member of the US Democratic Party. While his tax policies do tend to favour the middle class more than the wealthy, they also do not infringe too much on the top five percent of Americans who are wealthy in the extreme. He’s not going to hit the elite too hard, just skim a few more dollars from the cream atop their jugs. Its not like he’s going to strip them down and give their expensive loafers to some poor kid in the Bronx. The hue and cry that Mr. Obama is somehow a “Socialist” is a total misnomer. He’s talking about redistributing some of the wealth, not all of it! In fact, most of America’s top five percent are barely going to notice the difference, and when it all comes out in the wash, neither are the lower 30 percent. Most of them will still not be able to afford rent, let alone college educations for the kids.
About the only real difference an Obama presidency would make is in the selection of more moderate persons to sit on the US Supreme Court, but that can be said about any Democratic administration. To be fair, that’s no small difference. However, the choice of more moderate justices, over ideologues, is the norm, not the exception, when there is a Democrat in the White House.
Another aspect of change under an Obama led government will be its course in foreign wars. That said, anyone who thinks the election of Mr. Obama means there will be a pacifist peace-nick in the White House is delusional! Mr. Obama, while making it clear he wants out of Iraq, has also called for ramping up the war in Afghanistan, and for hunting down Osama bin Laden, no matter where he is! Most experts believe, if Osama bin Laden is alive, he is in Pakistan. While he’s not said so much directly, Mr. Obama’s rhetoric would indicate he is prepared to send US troops and/or operatives, into that country!
We must all remember the US economy is based on oil, and an oil based economy does real well when there’s a war going on. While Mr. Obama speaks of alternative energy, and energy independence, the US market is years away from bearing fruit from such development. While working on alternative energy sources, they will need to keep their economy buoyant, and the easiest way to do that will be to keep US industry busy producing and replacing the hardware required for war. Mr. Obama is not about to make himself a one term president by declaring peace and tanking the US economy at the same time. He’s way too clever for that.
All in all, while an Obama Presidency will mark a change from the ideologically driven Bush administration, in most areas his ascension to the executive wing will mean business as usual. While the rhetoric will be less warlike, and the willingness to compromise more apparent, America will still view itself as the most beautiful, biggest and best. It will still use its economic mite to get its own way, and its military power as an intimidation tool. The rich will still ride around in limousines, and the poor will continue to fall through the cracks. Much of the middle east will still be on fire, and the environment will remain endangered. Protesters will continue to be beaten with billy clubs, and the children of low income working people will continue to fill the ranks of its armed forces.
But there will be one difference, and it will be stark and noticeable, and it will give hope to people everywhere. The man standing behind the Seal of President of the United States will not have pink skin!
Over the past few months, while this contest has continued, we’ve all witnessed some of the worst bigotry, racism, stupidity and ignorance since the dark days of the 1960s civil rights movement. We’ve watched as national presidential and vice-presidential campaigns have stirred up some of the ugliest notions, opinions and divisiveness ever to see the light of day. For many of us who remember the dark days of the ‘50s and ‘60s, its been like a 24-7 horror show, a flashback to a bad trip we’d long ago tried to forget. The word “nigger” has been rebirthed and regurgitated onto our TV screens as if it were fair comment. We have been reminded, day in and day out, that the horror of degradation and nullification are not behind us, but bubbling just below the surface, ready to rise to the top and be unleashed.
We’ve all watched as an apparently legitimate political party, and its leaders, have not only enabled, but encouraged, the ranting and ravings of a lunatic fringe to be visited on our children and ourselves. In many ways these past months have been a nightmare relived, to the point where a lot of us are expecting a repeat of the dark events of the 1960s when people like Martin Luther King were shot dead for their courage. Even I, a political junkie of the first order, find myself afraid to turn on the TV, the radio, or my computer, for fear of the bulletin announcing we have gone nowhere these past 40 years, that we’re on a tread mill, not a path to the mountain top, that nothing, absolutely nothing has changed.
I hope it is not so. And for that reason alone, if I were an American citizen, despite my skepticism, I would be voting for Barack Obama.
Its not because I believe Mr. Obama will change the world, or even the United States. Its not because I believe Mr. Obama is any less or more a politician than his opponents. Most certainly, it would not be because of his party, or his policies. I would vote for Barack Obama because his election, quite simply, would mean that something in America has changed, that America has finally taken the first baby step we’ve all been waiting so many years for it to take. I would vote Barack Obama for hope. Hope that there will finally be change, even if I don’t really believe such change will come.
Barack Obama, if elected, will be a middle of the road president. He will appoint a few moderate chief justices, reform some tax law, and, if the force is with him, withdraw from Iraq. He will not bring peace to the world, save the environment, end racism, hunger, or poverty. The rich will grow richer and the poor poorer. America will continue to be mistrusted and loathed in many parts of the world. In many ways, it will be business as usual, but there will be one difference, and it will be a difference that keeps hope alive.
It will appear to the world that America has changed.

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