In 1994, Republicans took over the Congress with one goal foremost in mind; to turn Americans against government. Twelve years later, they've succeeded, although not the way they intended. A new CNN poll finds that 54 percent of Americans think government tries to do too much, while only 37 percent think government should do more. And to put government in its place, they're going to vote Democrat.The pernicious myths of the free spending irresponsible tax and spend liberals and the hard money steely-eyed conservatives has dominated the discourse for too many years. Even so-called progressives from Clinton to Blair scrambled madly to show how Reaganesqe or Thatcherite they could be.
While in Canada we've seen the vaguely progressive Liberals maintaining more than a decade of government by - which even their foes were forced to admit - being extremely pro business, tax-cutting deficit slaying good government types. They only lost power because they were also stinting on the progressiveness and simultaneously and blatantly sucking back all the loot they could throat.
Which is basically what happened to the Democrats when they were caught filling their pockets too many times leading up to '94, so they missed most of the benefit from the begining of the big progressive era economic upswing.
Then the Republicans came in, borrowed and spent like drunken sailors to protect carefully gerrymandered vote margins, poured out oceans of blood and tanker fleets of treasure in a mind-numbingly stupid utopian Middle Eastern fantasy, committed assault and battery on liberty, democracy and the constitution and filled their pockets at the same time.
The coming GOP apocalypse will be an explicit swing to the left and will herald a return to progressive politics within the Democratic Party. A renawal largely driven by an activist grass-roots and the canniness of the much reviled Howard Dean's 50 state strategy and also largely reflecting a wider and growing American consensus, illuminated rigorously by Stirling Newberry:
Many progressives, burned by kick the base tactics and outright betrayals, are going to have to stop and blink to realize that the frame of the debate has changed - this is no longer a debate about how far right we are to go, how fast, but how far left we are to go, and how best to proceed. It is going to take time for conservative Democrats to stop running to Reaganisms, and it is going to take time for progressives to realize that while there are many battles ahead, one of the most fundamental battles has been won.
Part of this is because the top down media still wants, for its own economic reasons, a restoration of the "to the right, ever to the right, never to the left" dialog of the past. And therefore they have been doing their best not to report on what has happened in the country. But the polls tell the story - independents now poll like Democrats, the country is now 60-40 against the reactionary movement.
The rising sea change in American political life will also be the outrider for a similar shift, or rather an affirmation, of the Canadian progressive consensus.
Jack Layton just backed Stephen Harper and all the contenders in the Liberal leadership race blinking and stammering into the same spotlit corner. It will be a chilly day on the Hustings but by the end of the night we'll most likely have a government that views the combination of responsible stewardship and a progressive approach to public policy as the baseline for political survival and Stephen Harper can go back to his former job of professional whiner for the National Citizens Coalition.
Thankfully, before the Conservatives can screw over Canada as much as the Republicans did the USA.