Long time reader Robert Schwartz was kind enough to give me a heads up to an op-ed that was just printed in the UK Spectator. (Free registration required.) The author was Mark Steyn, and the subject is how the Democrats are desperate to find the One Big Issue that will prove to the electorate once and for all that the Bush administration is corrupt, incompetent, or involved in nefarious skullduggery. Just as soon as that happens, the reasoning goes, a royally pissed electorate will vote the Republicans out and the Democrats in.
It could be that we’ll elect a Democrat for President in 2008, but to regain control of Congress in the numbers that the Dems dream of would mean that the voters would have to be pissed in the English sense instead of the American. As Steyn points out in his essay, the opposition is just not offering much of substance. Instead they’re pinning their hopes on a Republican blunder so amazingly huge that anger will motivate those going to the polls instead of reason. They just don’t get it that, since 9/11, the world has changed and they had better change with it.
Steyn even expands this to include other countries.
One of the themes of the post-Iraq period was that the three musketeers of the Anglosphere — Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard — were all in trouble with angry electorates. As we now know, they all won re-election. Meanwhile, the fellows who opposed intervention in Iraq are floundering: Gerhard Schröder is out of office and is now a frontman for Russia’s state-owned Gazprom (‘It’s all about gaz!’), Jacques Chirac is the lamest of lame ducks, and Canada’s anti-Bush Liberal government will lose the election on 23 January. Nothing to do with Iraq in any of those cases — except that Iraq is a useful test for how clearly you comprehend the historical moment. And, as with Ted Kennedy and the Democrats, if you don’t get Iraq, it’s unlikely you’ll get the other currents coursing through the geopolitical scene.
I don’t share Steyn’s confidence that Canada will vote their Liberal government out come election day. Two years ago I thought the Conservatives had a pretty good chance, but the voters decided to stay with the same corrupt bunch of jerks. Is it possible that the voters are so angry that they will kick them out this time around? We’ll see.
But it appears to me that the Conservatives have pretty much adopted a strategy similar to that used by the Democrats. They’re hoping that there will be some huge scandal that will cause such an outpouring of anger that the Conservatives will reap the benefit. They will gain power by simply being The Non-Liberal Party.
This might actually work. It just might not be business-as-usual come January 24. But we can’t forget that the Liberals have honed a platform that resonates with Canadians like no other. The Liberals promise to keep the goodies coming from the public purse, and they promise that they’ll keep Canada from becoming anything like the United States.
Trying to keep your country from resembling the US is a losing strategy in the long run. A culture doesn’t need to try and rework themselves in our image to be seen as a success, but there are very good reasons why we’re the biggest success that the world has ever seen. Rejecting what works because it has an American taint is a sure way to keep sliding down that long slope to insignificance.
If a Conservative government is formed, and they win enough seats in Parliament to keep the efforts to sabotage new legislation to a minimum, I’d say that they have maybe two years. After that they’d better have some real improvements to hold up as proof that they can deliver the goods. If they can’t do that then the Liberals will most probably come creeping back and the whole sorry dance will just start all over again.
But I could always be wrong.