Live Well, Do Good

Future of Politics on Display

Brandon Sun, January 12, 2008 - David McConkey

Regardless of who is elected American President this November, their current political campaign offers a fascinating glimpse into the future. And not just the future for the U.S., but for all of us.

As much as we Canadians don’t like to concede the superiority of anything American, we have to admit that their democratic system is really something. The American Revolution predated the French, the Russian and other revolutions and experiments in government. The American model has proved to be durable, adaptable, and inspiring.

Of course, their democracy is imperfect. So is ours. And we should remember how far we all have come to embrace universal opportunity. My grandmothers couldn’t vote when they became adults – they had to wait until women were granted the vote. First Nations Canadians were not allowed to vote until the 1960s.

Current American Presidential hopefuls continue to break barriers.

The Republican tent is expanded by Mitt Romney, a Mormon; and John McCain, who, at age 72 would be the oldest person ever elected President. As well as by Rudy Giuliani, a divorced Roman Catholic who is pro-choice and favors gun control.

Democratic contenders include a woman (Hillary Clinton), an African-American (Barack Obama), and a Hispanic (Bill Richardson).

Surprising and noteworthy today, such diversity will be commonplace in the future.

Democrat Barack Obama symbolizes not only America’s future, but also the world’s. His father was from Africa, his mother from the United States. As a child, he lived for several years in Indonesia.

Obama is the person more and more of us everywhere are going to be: global in background and of mixed racial heritage.

His election as President would inspire people from Boston to Botswana to Brandon. After all, just a few decades ago, even inter-racial marriage in the U.S. was widely considered shocking, dangerous, even against the law.

Republican Ron Paul also epitomizes the future. A libertarian, he attracts support from the far right to the far left. He dares to oppose the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the death penalty, and the War on Drugs. He advocates dismantling the CIA and - in his words - the American “empire” in the Middle East.

Paul has mobilized a vast following on the Internet. He raised more money in one day than anyone else, ever. Paul’s campaign shows how the Internet increasingly will develop whole new political realities.

Republican Mike Huckabee is a socially conservative, evangelical Christian who is pro-life and believes in creationism – not in evolution. He represents the future.

Fundamentalist religious societies are the future, commentator Mark Steyn says. That is the thesis of his recent book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. The reason? Demographics.

Societies in Canada and Europe – secular, pro-choice, welfare states – are not sustainable. Families are in decline and birth rates are very low.

Growing populations, on the other hand, are religious and conservative. These include Muslims in Europe and Christians in the U.S.

Steyn shows how today’s marriage and birth rates forecast what lies ahead.

Canada’s marriage rate is 6.8 per 1,000; America’s rate is 11.7.

Our birth rate is only 1.48 – an all time low and well below replacement level.

In the U.S., the birth rate is a much more robust 2.11.

An aging Canada and a more youthful United States will have different futures. This disparity, Steyn says, is much more revealing “than any of the stuff (socialized health care, fewer handguns, more UN peacekeepers, etc.) that Canucks usually brag about.”

The population is also changing within the U.S. itself. States that voted for George W. Bush have birth rates 12% higher than states that voted for the Democrats.

So, Huckabee speaks for an increasingly religious and conservative America. Mormon Mitt Romney is also a harbinger of the future. Mormons in Utah, Steyn points out, have one of the highest birth rates in the entire world.

Americans in 2008 choose their President for the next four years. As well, all of us are seeing trends today that will play out over decades into the future.

* * * 

See also:

Youth May Soon Lead Change

Issues for the Next Election? 

Book Looks at Islamic World

Religion and Values in the Public Square

Citizen Active

Prime Minister Obama?

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