So, What Now?
The Americans showed us yesterday that they are, at heart, a conservative people. The economy has tanked, there is a mess of a foreign war, and civil rights are being yanked left, right and centre: It seems hard to believe that the setup could have been any better for the Democrats. And yet Bush easily won the popular vote, and seems certain to scoop the 270 electoral college votes he needs for a second term. Not only that, but the Republicans increased their control over both the House and the Senate.
So, what now?
The two or three Supreme Court Justices that Bush will now be able to appoint will change the flavour of America for a generation or more. It seems certain that Roe v Wade and women's rights will be an early casualty. The rich, of course, will continue to fly to Canada or Europe for their abortions, while the poor women of America will have to polish up their wire coat hangers. Overnight, gay rights have already been shattered by the 11 lost propositions. The possibility of legalising same-sex marriage is gone, and there will be increasing negative pressure on civil unions and gay adoptions. This could be a very tough few years for both women and gays as decades of progress are discarded.
Moreover, Patriot Act II will now be passed and will not be overturned by the new Court. More and more parts of individual Americans' lives will be monitored and tracked by the government and its agencies. The notion of privacy will essentially disappear. PA II will probably include secret courts ruling on secret charges, with habeas corpus suspended for those called before them. The American Taliban will now be given its head to impose fundamentalist rules of morality and security on the general public. Society will close in on itself even further.
As for the economy, one can see deficits soaring into an endless future. Bush and the GOP Congress will doubtless move to "reform" the taxation system further with massive tax breaks for the wealthier segments of the population "paid for" by equally massive cuts in entitlement programs. The inequalities which are extreme today, will only grow worse. Of course, even a President with a second term mandate will not be able to cut social services enough to feed the greed of the tax-cut brigade -- thus continuing and increasing deficits are certain. Combined with increasing trade balance deficits, this will put such strain on the value of the dollar that I can see OPEC moving away from a dollar-based pricing to one based, say, on the Euro. The Fed will probably try to stem the anti-dollar tide by increasing interest rates which in turn will devastate the house-owing boom that has been driven by super-low mortgages. A Bush second term will help feed the greed of a few while bancrupting the rest.
In foreign affairs, however, there is a glimmer of hope. So long as the US is bogged down in Iraq (and I see no exit strategy in place by Bush and his crowd) they are too weak militarily to launch any other pre-emptive attacks. In the Middle East at least, I expect the US will call on Israel to pick up its dirty work, especially in any attack on Iran, but full scale military engagement seems unlikely. That's the good news. The bad news is that the US will continue to gut international programs, especially those that diverge from the social beliefs of Bush's fundamentalist backers, and will no doubt continue to hamper any reform of the UN.
For those of us outside the United States, the next four years will be an interesting time as an increasingly weak (financially and militarily) but increasingly belligerent United States totters around the international stage. Inside the US, though, I believe the situation will become ever more dire and dangerous as poverty and social divisions increase. I suspect the majority will soon be looking forward to 2008.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference So, What Now?:
Don't worry about Roe vs. Wade...that is not going to change because there is a group of moderate Republican senators that have already warned they will NOT support extreme conservative SCJ nominations. The power of the fillabuster will win this one. And it actually will be hopeful for more moderates because Rehnquist is a huge right-winged guy and he will step down in the near term and probably be replaced with a more moderate judge.
Posted by: Heidi | Nov 3, 2004 4:50:39 PM
I wish you were correct. However, I am certain that you will get more Scalia-like justices than moderates. I suspect there are enough rightwing Democrats in the Senate who will read the "values" result of this election and cross the floor when pressed to vote against a President with 50%+ of the popular vote.
Posted by: Jak King | Nov 3, 2004 5:04:18 PM
Scalia is a scary mess - and will probably be JIC - but have some faith in us...I think this is the one issue the Democrates have left to fight for during the next four year and I anticipate a fight.
Posted by: Heidi | Nov 3, 2004 5:34:26 PM
What happened? It was Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Kerry talked about self-actualization with his "vote your hopes, not your fears." But fear is more basic, as Dick Cheney said "if we make the wrong choice, we could be attacked again." And people (who according to the ratings apparently spend more time watching Survivor than The News Hour with Jim Lehrer) fell for it.
I may not need to move to Canada but do you have room for my three draft-age sons? They're very bright and quite nice...
Posted by: decrepitoldfool | Nov 4, 2004 5:44:48 AM
I think you are correct that fear trumped all. As for your sons, if I have room left after my own draft-age kid is repatriated from Kansas ...
Posted by: Jak King | Nov 4, 2004 5:54:44 AM
Slightly OT, but I wanted to let you know about this in a current (ish) thread...
Videos and transcripts of The Power of Nightmares are now available online (first two episodes so far; the third one aired on Wednesday night -- what timing! -- but I haven't found a usable bittorrent file yet).
Read it and weep.
Posted by: vaara | Nov 4, 2004 1:49:22 PM
Our future looks that bad and quite possibly worse. I'm from Detroit and relatives witnessed Bush-supporting suburban males harassing the African American electorate. I fear we're also regressing to the pre civil rights era.
The peculiar thing is that Detroiters are so pissed some are hoping that the terrorists assasinate Bush and Cheney. Its surreal that many are more afraid of the evil deeds of the presidential administration than we are of the terrorists. Yet terrorism is probably the reason Bush won - or did he?
Posted by: marie | Nov 4, 2004 10:34:29 PM