Since Howard Dean, the new Chairman of the Democratic Party, spoke at Canada’s Liberal Pary leadership convention last year, I think most people commonly make the false comparison that:
U.S. Democratic Party = Canadian Liberal Party
U.S. Republican Party = Canadian Conservative Party
This causes lots of problems and misconceptions amongst both Canadians and Americans, but especially amongst Canadians. Canadians tend to root for the U.S. Democratic Party because they feel they’re similar to our ‘natural governing party’ (present circumstances excepted), the Liberals.
But, as I, and many others have attempted to point out, this is very far from the truth of the matter.
I recently decided to have some fun with politicalcompass.org‘s placement of political parties and personalities in Canada and the U.S..
The site lists both Canada’s political parties and the contenders for the 2008 U.S. Presidential on a standard, two-axis grid with the left/right x axis representing economic matters and the up/down y axis representing social matters (with the top being the most conservative and state-interventionist and the bottom being the most libertarian).
While the site doesn’t list Canada’s political parties on the same grid as the 2008 U.S. Presidential candidates, I was able to superimpose them over each other, scale them to match, and then transcribe them onto this grid to demonstrate that the Democrats are NOT anywhere near the same as the Liberals and the Republicans are NOT anywhere near the same as the Conservatives.
As you can see, and as we socialists have been saying for as long as I can remember, the American system is brilliantly devised to always provide an extremely narrow range of opinions which are acceptable for serious candidates to have — more so even than in Canada. Ignoring the two fringe candidates for the Democratic party who don’t have the backing of enough capitalists to make even a moderately serious run, the allowable opinion divergence covers roughly 28 cells, or, if you like, only 1.1% of the entire available political spectrum.
The Republicans, on the other hand, are much more open than the Democrats at accepting divergent political opinions. Their spread (again excluding the one fringe candidate who has yet to poll above the margin of error of having any support at all for more than one consecutive poll), covers an area of 33 cells — or only 1.3% of the entire political spectrum.
So we know that American’s have a cumulative choice of only an extremely narrow range of policy options with more than 95% of possible policy opinions in the U.S. being excluded from the mainstream which their capitalistic system permits.
But even the narrow ranges permissible in America do not line up as people commonly think they do: Liberal = Democrat, Conservative = Republican.
Except for John Edwards, every one of the Democratic Party’s candidates would be Conservatives if they were in Canada — and some of them, such as Bill Richardson, would even be considerably to the right of the Conservatives.
Conversely, the man portrayed as ‘ultra-extreme’ left in the States — Kucinich — would actually be a pretty boring, run-of-the-mill NDP backbencher in Canada. He would probably closely approximate a Pat Martin or so. Which, as you can see, in the grand scheme of things, is merely centre-left.
So, should Canadians be rooting for a Democratic victory in ’08 as we always do? Obama? Clinton? Edwards?
I’d say no. I’d say that more than anything, Canadians — and our American comrades too for that matter — should, in my opinion, be hoping that the Americans’ perverse political and electoral system collapses under its own weight. Only once Americans have a complete ‘reboot’ of their political system, will they be able to enjoy even a modicum degree of control…. or at least a modicum of control over what brand of capitalist overlords they want to have.
A Democrat in the White House simply won’t cut it.