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Elections in the U.S., Canada and Ecuador, and the Influence of Karl Rove September 24, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Canada, About Ecuador, About Repubicans, Canada, U.S. Election 2008.
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I have ties with three countries, the United States, Canada and Ecuador, which happen to be — all three– in the midst of election campaigns.

 

A single word comes to mind: Rove.  As in Karl Rove.  In the States Rove and his protégés are firmly in control of the McCain campaign.  And it’s all about Sarah Palin, who combines the characteristics of motherhood and apple pie at the same time as she comes across, as one commentator described her, as a toned down porn star.  Issues be damned.  It’s about Sarah, right to life (for the foetus if not for American soldiers and Iraqi and Afghani civilians), gay marriage, flexing American muscle in the face of terrorism, taking advantage of every vestige of racism that remains strong in the American psyche, and, of course, playing the religion card.  It’s a form of triumphalism that would make Joseph Goebbels proud.

 

In Canada, where a former Prime Minister, once famously said elections are no place to discuss issues, Conservative PM Stephen Harper has not forgotten the infamous Willie Horton commercial that sunk Michael Dukakis in the 1988 U.S. presidential election.  He is promoting life sentences for 14 year old gang members (with parole eligibility after 25 years – let no one ever say that Harper doesn’t have a heart).  In an attempt to paint his opponents as latte drinking, quiche eating elites, he has justified his cutting of funding to arts and culture because ordinary folks don’t care about the arts.  He went on to add: “average Canadians have no sympathy for ‘rich’ artists who gather at galas to whine about their grants.”

 

But it is in Ecuador, which is in the midst of a referendum to approve or reject a new progressive Constitution, that even Karl Rove could learn a thing or two.  The “No” campaign has stooped to lows that the master of lies, distortion and spin might not dare to descend.  The Ecuadorian right, along with its conservative allies in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, are shouting at the top of their collective voice (with the support of most Ecuadorian media) that the under the proposed new Constitution, the State will promote abortion, homosexuality, dictatorship, poverty and hunger (including the latter two is bitterly ironic in that those who for generation have held power and are desperate not to relinquish it, are the very ones responsible for the high degree of poverty and hunger that exist in the country in the first place).

 

Riding through the streets of Guayaquil, the nations largest city and principal seaport, I saw scores of humble apparently home-made “No” signs.  I said to myself that the “No” campaign must be somehow getting to ordinary people.  On closer look, however, I discovered that the signs, which appeared to be clumsily made with ball point pens, were in fact mass produced lithographs.  You might try that one some day, Karl.

 

No here is what for me is the most interesting irony.  In the U.S. and Canada, the Rovite candidates are poised to celebrate victory.  In Canada, Conservative PM Stephen Harper seems to be on the verge of converting his minority government into a majority one.  In the States, McCain still holds a slight edge over Obama, despite the fact that the popularity of the Republican Party is at an all-time low.  These campaigns are far from over, and could still turn around in favor of more moderate parties.

 

In Ecuador, however, despite the heavily financed campaign for the “No” vote coming from the traditional rightist parties and their corporate sponsors, and despite the backing of most of the media and political pundits for a “No” vote; the “Yes” campaign appears to hold a solid majority.  The majority of Ecuadorians, who live in a country where the levels of illiteracy and under education far exceed those of the United States and Canada, somehow have found a way to see through the lies and manipulations and have continued to support the Alianza País Party (which has created the proposed new Constitution) and its President, Rafael Correa, who have maintained high degrees of popularity despite constant attacks from the right and the media.

 

There is a powerful slogan that is often used at political rallies: “El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido” (“the people, united, will never be defeated”).  In Ecuador, this seems to be developing into reality.  I have hopes for the same in the two North American alleged democracies.

 

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