November 7, 2002

From my position of lofty ignorance beyond the U.S. borders:

Why do Republicans now control both houses? As with elections in other democratic countries, the parties that win tend to be the ones who talk the talk we want to hear. And it’s not just a question of what is talked about. It’s also how it’s talked about.

To use an extreme analogy, when someone’s house is on fire it’s difficult to get them to discuss the condition of their lawn.

“Would you cut your grass, please?”

“You idiot! My damn house is on fire!”

He’s right. The other guy’s an idiot. It’s not that the U.S. is in such a dire situation, such as their house being on fire. But there is definitely a perception that something akin to this is their situation. Republicans spoke to this perception; Democrats did not. And so we have the results of the recent election.

It’s also a leadership question. Bush is perceived to be a strong leader, thanks largely to world terrorism. The Democrats have … have … well, I’m not sure who the hell they have. But it’s a bad hand to have going into an election.

When the political landscape in any country adjusts to favour any one party to a great extent (such as the U.S. now, Canada with the Liberal party, the province of Alberta with it’s provincial Conservatives), it often says more for the lack of credible alternatives than it does for the heavily preferred party. Not all the time, but it does more often than not.

The Democrats have quite a bit of building to do now. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope they get their heads out of their bums, get a sense for where the world’s population, and especially the U.S. population, is and begin to speak to them as a credible alternative and not simply as the cranky guys who lost.

Without balance, we all tend to go overboard and this is the risk now with such a dominant Republican party in power.

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