Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Comparing Ignatieff and Rae

The leader of the Liberals is now Michael Ignatieff, who brings at least somewhat more legitimacy and respectability to the party. The replacement leaves me much more optimistic about the political scene than I was a week ago, and with only one more thing to say to Stephane Dion: don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Ignatieff has an extensive resume, which has taken him from the University of Toronto to New York and Harvard. He is more of a centrist candidate, especially this time around, considering in 2006 he became a polarizing figure within the party, basically costing him the leadership at the time. But for all his positive attributes, he does not have my full support as of yet.

For one, I'm worried that Ignatieff is at the center of an "Obama Effect", where an academic is thrust into the political spotlight by the media by default and by taking a "middle of the road" position intended to please everyone and keep away from controversy. This is exactly how he ended up being handed the leadership recently. As a result, Dominic Leblanc and Bob Rae, his 2 competitors, quickly dropped out for the good of the party, as they knew Ignatieff was the "popular" choice to lead. Let's hope the "Obama Effect" doesn't trick people into jumping on the Liberal bandwagon without looking at the real issues.

His foreign policy also worries me: he supported the war in Iraq, is strongly in support of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, and has a questionable view on the use of torture. It seems his experience in the States gave him the feeling that war is required and has more benefits than drawbacks. Up here, that is not the attitude we have (at least not those who I have spoken to recently). Maybe he will have to change his tune on that issue to avoid the one major issue in which he is vulnerable to exploitation: the myth that he is too American. Hopefully the Canadian people will not be manipulated by the Conservative patriotism claims and realize that the neo-con, Bush-loving Conservative Party is more "American" in its operations than Ignatieff.

Bob Rae has more political experience than Ignatieff (Premier of Ontario 1990-95 as a New Democrat), but has been the underdog from Day 1 for a reason unknown to me. At least Rae displayed clear confidence in the Coalition and was insistent on taking down PM Harper; Ignatieff is leaning towards disbanding the Coalition and has agreed with Harper on some key issues. However, his past as Premier (which was marred by a recession created by the previous leadership) gives the Conservatives more ammo with which to attack, leaving Ignatieff was the number 1 choice in that regard. I preferred Mr. Rae as a leadership candidate due to his policies which work for the common good, his straight-forwardness and down-to-earth personality, and his intelligence and character.

Is this the beginning of the end of the Liberal rebuilding period? Ever since Jean Chretien departed, the party has been hard-pressed to find a stable, long-term solution as leader. Let's hope Ignatieff is that man. If he isn't, at least Bob Rae is waiting in the wings.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Barack Obama: Nothing is Changing

Listening to a politician, especially an American one, talking about hope and change and freedom and morals and values is hard for me to stomach. Those words can be spewed out of anyone's mouth, but they can be difficult to back-up. Unfortunately, naive and misinformed people alike tend to latch onto these catchy phrases, vote for these politicians, and get what they deserve. It has happened before in 2000 and 2004 with George W. Bush, and it is happening again in 2008 with Barack Obama.

With numerous celebrities and elites alike filling his pockets with millions of dollars, it's no wonder Obama won on November 4th. On the world stage and in office, charisma, charm, and speaking ability will only get one so far. However, many a voter will look past the real issues and focus on artificial attributes and minor opinions. Let's look past the cult of personality that has formed around Barack Obama and look at some of his policies.

If you're going to talk about change Barack, it would help if you didn't continue the cycle of greed and corruption in the American economy and on Wall Street by voting in accordance with John McCain for the $850 billion dollar bailout. It will do nothing to help the American economy (in fact it wasn't even needed), and continued government intervention in the economy is simply a bad idea. All of the most successful economies in the world have the least government intervention. Obama is hard to predict on tax issues: he states numerous tax cuts, but with spending bound to increase during his tenure as president, the debt will only get larger and inflation will become increasingly insurmountable. He also plans to increase the size of government with more regulatory bodies, which doesn't bode well based on this fact: "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators" (P.J. O'Rourke). When it comes to the economy, Barack Obama is not going to change what needs to be changed.

If you're going to talk about change Barack, I would expect immediate withdrawal from Iraq, instead of continuing the military presence in the Middle East, antagonizing Iran and Pakistan, and continually backing Israel when they are no better than the Palestinians and the majority of the Muslims in the region. Immersing oneself in the most volatile region in the world is clearly a bad idea, and it is not worth the lives of thousands of soldiers, unless you ask those who are making millions off of the wars: the American arms companies, the oil companies with connections to Bush and Cheney, and the elites who lust for a New World Order. War has been common place from Israel to Afghanistan for hundreds of years; no effort by the United States will be able to solve the epic quagmire that has been created in Iraq due to numerous financial, religious, cultural, and social factors. Instead, leaving Iraq immediately is the best solution (especially considering that most Iraqi's want their freedom back from the United States). This pre-emptive war was illegal and must not be condoned by any future governments; however, Obama is not accepting this fact, and it will only lead to more hatred of the United States around the world. When it comes to foreign policy, Barack Obama is not going to change what needs to be changed.

Obama voted "present" 129 times in his 8 years in the Illinois Senate. Do you know what that means? It means he was there in the Senate building and could have voted on important issues, but lacked the courage to do so. Obama does what he can to cover himself and to not offend anyone; therefore, even though I agree with many of his social issues and his energy and health care reform plans, I am skeptical that his policies will not see the light of day. His lack of initiative and leadership in the political arena is not Presidential material. John McCain has many flaws in policy, but his edge here is undeniable. His service in the military plus his experience and openness in Senate all prove the amount of passion and leadership he exemplifies.

The majority of the American people seem to be too easily manipulated to stand up against the establishment and demand real action from real leaders. The political system in the United States is severely flawed, as authoritarianism and big government is ripping away democracy and liberty from the American people. The War on Terror and the increased illusion of security slowly takes away freedoms from Americans everyday. Barack Obama, once again, does not plan to change any of these facts.

Barack Obama will be President of the World's last remaining superpower because of media and corporate manipulation, race, and appearances. As the common saying goes, "don't judge a book by its cover". Americans made this mistake and it will only lead to negative events. Looking down at the political landscape in the United States, even in this time of supposed hope and change, I am beginning to lose hope of my own.