Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Morning After

There is change in the air this morning, and things will be different in America. While those who favour a liberal or progressive agenda will be disappointed, it's nevertheless a very good morning.

The Democrats took the US House of Representatives by an encouragingly big margin. They took the US Senate by a much closer margin, but they still took it. Together, that gives the Democrats the opportunity to exercise oversight over the Bush Administration. The US Constitution requires Congress to do that, but Republicans simply refused.

At his press conference this morning, Bush accepted he and the Republicans had received a “thumpin’”. Dismissing the strident attacks on him during the campaign, he also said he’d been in a lot of rodeos (as the clown, he meant to say?), and he knew not to take it personally. What choice does he have? He’s out in two years, so it’s cooperate or be irrelevant.

One of the greatest changes so far is that Donald Rumsfeld is toast. Never has there been a more arrogant, self-righteous or incompetent Secretary of Defense. Eventually, he came to epitomise everything that was wrong about
America’s war on and occupation of Iraq.

The main reason he had to go was that Democrats now controlling Congress would have investigated him, and that would have led to investigations of others in the Bush administration, likely leading to criminal charges against some of them. So, Rumsfeld fell on his sword.

There’s still opportunity for mischief. If the Virginia Senate seat suddenly switches to the Republican through a recount, we’ll know something untoward is happening. No, I’ll be more direct: We’ll know there was corruption at work.

Corruption was, in fact, one of the main issues in the election, according to exit polls. So it’s not surprising that more evidence of Republican intimidation of Democratic voters is being documented. My guess is that when the dust settles, some Republicans will go to prison because of their efforts at voter intimidation and suppression.

A dark stain on
America was the adoption of anti-gay marriage referenda in seven of the eight states that had them on the ballot. Arizona was the only state to reject a ballot measure, which would not only have defined marriage as being one-man/one-woman, but which also would have forbidden civil unions and domestic partnerships. There was some hope, however, in that the margin of approval in the other seven states was clearly narrower than in previous referenda.

It seems evident to me that the Republicans probably did a reasonably good job getting most of their voters to vote. The difference this time was that—for a change—Democrats and independents actually voted. Had they voted in 2000, 2002 or 2004, things never would have become so bad, but better late than never, I suppose.

The Democratic victories yesterday don’t mean that
America has suddenly lurched to the left. Many of the Democrats newly elected to Congress are as conservative on social issues as the Republicans they replaced. The challenge for the left will be to work with these “new Democrats” because they are likely to become dominant in the years ahead.

All in all, the elections produced the results that
America needed. The US Congress was pulled back to the centre of the political spectrum and may, for the first time since Bush was appointed president in 2000, finally exercise their Constitutional duties of oversight.

We’ll be watching.

No comments: