Someone once said, “The only time it’s enjoyable to watch Fox News is right after a Democrat has won the White House.”
OK, it was actually me who said that, a couple days ago to a friend, but it was based on a number of similar sentiments that have been making the rounds in wake of the U.S. Presidential election.
With their strict partisanship, their faulty back-peddling, and their utter detachment from reality, Fox News, the most conservative punditry in America, is looking rather whitewashed these days, even pathetic.
Forget that Barack Obama was just re-elected; it’s great to be a liberal right now simply for the bliss of watching hardcore conservatives become so unhinged. And before you accuse me of gloating, let’s get one thing straight: they brought it on themselves. They could have played it safe and not made such out-there predictions about a Republican landslide, and they could have taken the defeat in stride and said to their audience something dignified like, “America has spoken, and now Republicans must regroup.” But they didn’t. Instead, they called Americans hopeless, cowardly, and, in the words of one Bill O’Reilly, a bunch of moochers who just “want stuff” from the government. They don’t waste any time, I’ll give them that.
But something else has occurred to me in the weeks since the election. Yes, it was a close election, and yes, the House of Representatives remains firmly in Republican hands, but at least symbolically Nov. 6 should be remembered as a fairly substantial victory for liberalism.
Conservatives screamed to the heavens that Barack Obama was a socialist, a religion-hater, even an immigrant, but rational Americans were not fooled. Toss in some landmark decisions to legalize both marijuana and gay marriage in a handful of states and suddenly it felt like the U.S. was finally moving into the 21st century.
It stands to reason that when you witness Republicans take to their soapboxes and holler with loud voices, as they have done the past couple weeks, it means that progress is winning. What else could conjure such overblown reactions? It’s exactly why they call them “reactionaries.” It got me thinking – maybe our neighbours to the south aren’t as inherently conservative as I once thought.
And when I say “conservative,” I mean that in conjunction with Canada. It used to be said that a liberal in the U.S. was the same thing as a conservative in Canada. That trend seemed to dissipate in 2006 when Stephen Harper entered office as Prime Minister, and it all but vanished in 2011 when his party won a majority government. Harper has since used that majority to enact far-right policies that have put Canada on a regressive path, and now with this glimpse of forthcoming progress in the States, it had me asking: has Harper finally achieved his goal? Are we the new America? The fact that two states legalized pot before us is mind-blowing in and of itself.
If the answer is “yes” I truly think Canadians need to take a lesson from this American election. We need to use our next election for a landmark of our own. To be blunt: we need to get rid of Stephen Harper.
There, wasn’t that simple?
Indeed, sometimes introspection works best when it is kept simple. If, for example, the Republicans are to take a lesson from this election, let’s hope it is just as simple. I’ll even give them a hint: the American people are tired of sensationalism. Canadians should be feeling the same.
You can choose a specific reason if you’d like: maybe Harper’s relentless insistence that we are a welfare state and his resulting cuts to social programs; or how ‘bout just the plain fact that he resides over the only government to have been found in contempt of parliament in Commonwealth history. Sure, why not? But at the end of the day, it’s the broader implications of continued Harper governance that are the most daunting, like many liberals’ demoralizing suspicion that he has been gradually Americanizing us for years now.
But those fears were in reference to the backwards America – the America that was the only developed country in the world without some form of universal healthcare, the America that constantly mistook the term “defence budget” for “imperial budget,” the America that thought the preamble of their own Declaration of Independence applied only to heterosexuals. Don’t you miss the days when things like that made Canadians feel, if not superior, at least darn good about themselves? Yet strangely this most recent election has me second guessing myself.
From a liberal perspective, the U.S. still has a long way to go but they are at least moving forward, however slowly. Canada, with its private sector loving, power hungry, anti-equality Prime Minister, seems to be the one now headed in the wrong direction. Hence, we need to make him go away, or soon we are all going to wake up and find Canadians being bankrupted by heart attacks while gay couples in the U.S are smoking joints on their way to the altar.