“until philosophers rule as kings…”

November 8, 2006

yesterday, americans went to the polls to elect new senators and members of congress. historically, the results are not extremely shocking. that being said, considering the context of the past five years, it’s a surprise to see how the cards fell in washington.

you know that feeling that you get when you were a kid? the kind where you had wished your guts out to get that special present at christmas and finally, at the moment of truth, you realize that saint nicholas had listened to your prayers and given you the entire set of optimus prime and the autobots? that’s how i felt this evening when i heard the news.

  • in the senate, both the republicans and the democrats won 49 seats. the remaining two seats were won by independents joseph lieberman of connecticut (defending his seat after losing the democratic nomination) and bernie saunders of vermont (having won the democratic primary but declining the nomination), both of whom intend to caucus with the democrats.
  • in the house, democrats elected 229 members to the republicans’ 196.
  • at the white house, secretary of defense donald rumsfeld resigned today.

some big shake-ups, indeed.

first off, it’s clear that, while the election was a decisive blow to george w. bush, it cannot be construed as a victory for the democrats outright. americans voted against the republicans; they most certainly did not vote for the democrats out of a genuine desire to do so.

american politics is dirty and ugly. candidates appeal to the most base instincts of the electorate instead of pushing new ideas. the republicans, with their magic blend of conservatism and fearmongering, have pushed the political spectrum well to the right of what could have even been expected of the reagan years. george w. bush’s administration has been constantly criticized and lampooned (one of the best lines that i’ve heard about the religious right comes from rick mercer: “these people think about gay sex more than gay people do”). as much as this turns people off (especially canadians, with our self-righteous smugness), there is a silver lining to the clouds.

the democrats have a chance to succeed where bill clinton failed. they can either be the party that people elect or they can be the party that people want to elect. they have a fantastic opportunity to tackle poverty, implement universal health care, change foreign policy, promote equality and fight to save the environment (which, by the way, is now the third most important issues facing canadians today, behind the classic worry of health care and the contemporary issue of our army in afghanistan). they have the chance to acknowledge themselves as social liberals, pushing for social, political and economic reforms in pursuit of a more wholesome america. they have a good selection of leaders (clinton, obama, edwards and stalwart kennedy come to mind); one of whom will eventually be selected to run for president. in short, it’s time to revive johnson’s great society.

the political soil in america is rich today. i hope that it’s quickly sewn with good ideas.

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