The recent American election not only showed that the American republic is deeply divided but that if one was hoping for a renewal of that economic engine in one electoral spark, disappointment I fear is the order of the day. The re-election of Barak Obama is for many to be heralded as the confirmation of a new socially progressive “warm and fuzzy” America and for others to be decried as it portends the end of days. It does confirm however some troubling trends that have me conclude that America’s halcyon days are now behind her.
The history of “progressivism” in American policy can be dated back to the late nineteenth century, but it was given metal through the monolithic governance of FDR. The Republican Party had to abandon its traditionally dual approach of isolationism and laissez faire economics in favour of becoming the party of national security and a watered down New Deal. The triumph of Obama represents another moment in the ascendency of the progressive agenda.
What can one expect from this unfettered progressive America? The American economy will undoubtedly improve, but the chance of a rebirth of the capitalist spirit is likely stillborn. The simple facts of markets and price cycles make one think that America will rebound. However this “recovery” will be punctuated by expanded regulation, expanded government and an agenda driven by class envy. The American leviathan, ever more ravenous will seek revenue wherever it can. American citizens resident in Canada cannot look forward to an end of the requirement to file annually with the IRS, and this burden may in time be made worse with a requirement to remit to Uncle Sam.
While the Keystone Pipeline will no doubt be built, which will be a further boom to the economy of our western provinces the increasing power of organized labour, one of the foundations of Obama’s political success, will put strains on Ontario’s already battered economy. Those parties in Canada that mimic Obama’s class driven rhetoric and embrace over regulation will become emboldened. The media in Canada will continue to attack business and the profit motive as something foreign to our shores.
The current federal government should take pride in their achievements but should be mindful of the effects of Obama. Remaining focused on fiscal prudence must be the central policy tenant of Stephen Harper’s government. He and his supporters must be more forceful in pointing out the success of Canadian policy and gently point out the excesses of American progressivism. We must be on particular guard against energized and radical public service unions. For Canada to prosper in the coming generation a monumental overhaul of public pensions will be required. We must steel ourselves for that fight and avoid the class envy that has so dominated discourse south of our border.