America is in a state of crisis. Its economy is tanking, forcing a $700 billion government bailout. Its military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned into a massive boondoggle, burning a hole in taxpayers' pockets at a rate of at least $10 billion per month. On the home front, 9.2% of mortgage borrowers are either behind in their payments or are in foreclosure. Gasoline, which was at $1.50 a gallon when the Iraq War began, is now hovering around $3.70. In 2001, when George Bush took office, the federal government ran a surplus of $127 billion. The budget deficit for 2008 is expected to be $407 billion. The Republicans, who have held the reins of Executive power for the last eight years, are largely the authors of this mess. They launched the war in Iraq on the basis of a series of false claims, sat back as the housing and credit bubbles swelled to absurd proportions, championed the deregulation of the financial industry, and showered the wealthy upper crust with generous tax cuts at the same time as the jobs of average Americans were being outsourced and their standard of living was declining.
In a normal, functioning democracy, the Republicans would be bracing themselves for a complete rout in the November elections. The Democrats would win overwhelming victories in the Senate and the House, and Obama would ride a wave of mass disgust into the White House. The chief authors of America’s downfall would be publicly shamed, and some might even be criminally investigated. In the UK, which is afflicted with many of the same problems that plague America – a faltering financial sector, sagging property market, and the fallout from overseas military adventurism - former Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced to step down and the opposition Conservatives enjoy a 28 point lead in the polls over the ruling Labour Party. In 1993, when the Canadian economy was in recession and the national debt was growing out of control, the ruling Progressive Conservative Party, which had signed the controversial NAFTA agreement and instituted an unpopular national sales tax, was virtually wiped out. Its numbers were reduced from 155 seats in the House of Commons to 2. Prime Minister Kim Campbell suffered the ultimate in parliamentary humiliation with the loss of her own seat.
The US, however, is clearly not a normal democracy. A majority of its electorate don’t seem to vote according to rational motives such as economic self interest, disgust with entrenched corruption and mismanagement, anger at the lack of affordable medical care, concern over a failed foreign policy, and revulsion at the profiteering of the corporate elite. Many within the vast heartland of America will continue to vote Republican solely on the basis of their "values", values which seemingly have very little to do with peace, good governance, and prosperity for all. On the contrary, the biggest problems facing America, according to these "values voters", are abortion, gun control, and other liberal abominations such as stem cell research and gay marriage. Never mind the blatant moral hypocrisy of the holier-than-thou Republicans, a string of whom have been caught up in sleazy sex, drugs and corruption scandals over the past 8 years. No, come November the values voters will put on their crosses and do what they always do: vote Republican. That is to say, they'll vote for the guy, or gal, who thumps the Bible with one hand while giving them the shaft with the other.