Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The night the grow lights came on in Massachusetts

Lost in the shuffle in the coverage of Obama's victory (either a squeaker or a landslide, depending on whether you're counting popular vote or electoral college votes) is the fact that virtually every US election is accompanied by numerous referenda on various issues. In Massachusetts, and Michigan, the term could be "reeferendum":

Michigan became the 13th state to legalise marijuana for medical use, while Massachusetts decriminalised possession of one ounce or less of the substance, making the offence punishable with a citation and a $100 fine.

"Tonight's results represent a sea change," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which backed the Massachusetts and Michigan ballot proposals. "Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of 'Reefer Madness.'"

Not every ballot initiative was so positive, of course. Final results are still pending, but it's looking like California may have the ignominious distinction of becoming the first US state to ban same-sex marriage after it was legal. Probably supported by folks whose preachers told them that they'd burn in hell if they voted No. Oh well, that's how America works, I guess.

Incidentally, remember those "militia" organizations that were so prominent during the Clinton years and faded into the background during the last eight years? (I use quotes around the word "militia" because really, as Chomsky points out, militias are raised by states; these are really private armies, or in some cases actual terrorists). In any case, expect to see these folks being a lot more visible in the next little while, because most of them are not going to be happy with Obama's win at all.

And bugsybrown reminds us that Bush will still be president for 76 more days from today, which gives him time to do an awful lot of damage.


Ixion said...

As my father was good enough to remind me this weekend, things might get weird up here in the Great White North with Obama in power because the Democratic Party has always had a tendency towards protectionism. The compulsion to create unrestricted free trade between regions by making borders porous is largely a by-product of the Republican Party's commodity fetishism. [You know the drill: Adam Smith's 'truck and trade' leading to Big Brother's 'freedom is slavery.']

If Obama changes the structure of NAFTA, as he hinted at, it might result in some interesting consequences for us because our industrial base has been gutted by two decades of free trade. [Hell, he might be obliged to restrict trade to pull up the American economy more quickly.] If the border were to close now, we would be obliged to try and revify the putrifying corpse of Canadian industry . . . and somehow I don't honestly think that Harper is the man to spur industry to pull itself up by it's bootstraps. [Unless they're a.) in Alberta and b.) getting fat provincial and federal government subsidies . . . Oh, wait, I appear to be repeating myself.]

nitroglycol said...

You know, I'm not sure it would be as bad as the business press would like us to believe. They need what we have to sell (mostly natural resources and agricultural products at this time), and tearing up NAFTA wouldn't change that. Nor would it change the fact that we're a big market for them. What would happen is that a new trade deal would be negotiated soon, hopefully one which is more friendly towards workers and the environment.

Of course, it's all academic, since Obama is unlikely to actually act on this.

Ixion said...

I'm not quoting the business press, but I think that it could be exactly as bad as all that.

While the US needs some of our natural resources, they can do without enough of them to collapse the rest of our economy. The recent example of this has been the cattle industry which is collapsing as we speak. As much as it galls me to say this, the US has a much stronger industrial base than we will ever have. [Trudeau's analogy about the flea and the elephant was all too correct.] Shutting the border to imports saves American jobs and keeps the good ol' yankee greenbacks from departing for Canada. Obama will be getting much pressure to do something about the economy and, as we both know, he is a politician first and foremost.

Tearing up NAFTA would allow our politicians to close the border but would also allow their politicians to close the border as well.

And since when have we ever been a big market for them? Assuming that every Canadian bought a particular product, we might be a big market for them. [Unless they can bottle our water and market it back to us!] What Canada represents to the US is a geographically convenient market for them, but that's really about as far as our relationship goes.