February 1, 2007

History redux

Imagine the following headline: "Majority Democratic Congress passes act to withdraw all funding of foreign government". The quoted experts would forecast that the withdrawal of American military would de-stabilize the foreign country's economy, lead to an OPEC oil embargo and a subsequent world economic recession. Sound familar? This is, in fact, what happened in 1975 to South Vietnam.
I am not a historian nor a political scientist, and I was only four years old in 1975, but I can't help but think of the striking parallel to our times. The American body politic, disenfranchised under the disgraced Nixon, embraced Reagan's optimistic, down-to-earth persona and "government is the problem" ethos. Reagan's administration would go on to raise the national debt to 41% of the GDP, turning the United States into the world's largest debtor nation. Fast forward to the good-old-boy, "compassionate conservative" persona cultivated for G.W. Bush. Taking the advantage of a disgraced president, Bush ran with a platform of "family values" and national security, and found himself propelled into the presidency. Bush's second term will serve as a case study for decades to come: as of 2005 the national debt rose to 64% of GDP; in 2006 the U.S. had the world's largest deficit (while Canada had the world's 12th highest surplus); and as of February 2007 the National Priorities Project estimates that the U.S. has now spent $360-billion on the military's engagement in Iraq.
Under reflection, one must concede that the Democrat's return to majority status in the Congress is largely the result of a public voting against the Republicans rather than it voting for the Democrats (similarly, the election of Prime Minister Harper here in Canada was primarily a rebuff of the former Liberal government). It may well be a sufficient rage, however, to put a Democrat in the White House. The only question now is whether Mrs Rodham-Clinton and Mr Obama can put their egos aside and seriously contemplate the tactic of running together rather than against one another...[Illustration: Artist Unknown]

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