Saturday, January 31, 2009

U.S. Policy: Can "Change" Be Anything But More of the Same?

One item which flew under the radar of the Saturday discussions of news pundits was yesterday's move by Obama to lift the ban on international abortion funding. Will U.S. law always mirror the ideology of the party in power? (Image: Wikipedia) The decision by President Obama to reverse this ban, which was created by Reagan (Republican) during his first term. The first President Bush (R) let it stand, but Clinton (Democrat) terminated the order in his first term. George W. Bush (R) reinstated it, and now Obama (D) has cancelled it again. What does all of this mean?

What this means, in my eyes, is that United States politics has very little stability. Major issues such as abortion and military or intelligence strategy and more recently gay marriage, "Don't ask, don't tell" or healthcare are dictated by the ideology of the ruling party. So can change mean anything but more of the same party-line legislation?

I'm not belittling Obama's message or his policy, but, in an infinitely cynical way, I am asking if it really matters. If Obama puts America back on par with the rest of the G8 world in terms of health care, schooling, equal rights, citizen freedom, and countless other measures, will it survive the next Republican president?

Here in Canada our policies remain much more stable. When the Conservatives came in (who I should point out are more and more like the Reform party), they did not reverse long-standing legislation on public healthcare, ban abortions, and stop funding public schools or even review recent decisions such as allowing gay marriage.

This has nothing to do with the status of the Conservatives as a minority government, but, I argue, it is a matter of tradition. In a country where you are not guaranteed a 4 year term, you must remain in line -- and that means that you must always be ready to answer to the electorate. I believe most citizens in the United States or Canada prefer stability, which makes it all the more odd that the flip-flopping laws in the U.S. don't raise more eyebrows.