Ten Reasons Not to Move to Canada
by Sarah Anderson
Ready to say screw this country and buy a one-way ticket north? Here are some reasons to stay in the belly of the beast.
1. The Rest of the World. After the February 2003 antiwar protests, the New York Times described the global peace movement as the world's second superpower. Their actions didn't prevent the war, but protesters in nine countries have succeeded in pressuring their governments to pull their troops from Iraq and/or withdraw from the so-called "coalition of the willing."Antiwar Americans owe it to the majority of the people on this planet who agree with them to stay and do what they can to end the suffering in Iraq and prevent future pre-emptive wars.
2. People Power Can Trump Presidential Power. The strength of social movements can be more important than whoever is in the White House. Example: In 1970, President Nixon supported the Occupational Safety and Health Act, widely considered the most important pro-worker legislation of the last 50 years. It didn't happen because Nixon loved labor unions, but because union power was strong. Stay and help build the peace, economic justice, environmental and other social movements that can make change.
3. The great strides made in voter registration and youth mobilization must be built on rather than abandoned.
4. Like Nicaraguans in the 1980s, Iraqis Need U.S. Allies. After Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984, progressives resisted the urge to flee northwards and instead stayed to fight the U.S. governments secret war of arming the contras in Nicaragua and supporting human rights atrocities throughout Central America. Iraq is a different scenario, but we can still learn from the U.S.-Central America solidarity work that exposed illegal U.S. activities and their brutal consequences and ultimately prevailed by forcing a change in policy.
5. We Can't Let up on the 'Free Trade' Front Activists have held the Bush administration at bay on some issues. On trade, opposition in the United States and in developing countries has largely blocked the Bush administrations corporate-driven trade agenda for four years. The President is expected to soon appoint a new top trade negotiator to break the impasse. Whoever he picks would love to see a progressive exodus to Canada.
6. Barack Obama. His victory to become the only African-American in the U.S. Senate was one of the few bright spots of the election. An early opponent of the Iraq war, Obama trounced his primary and general election opponents, even in white rural districts, showing he could teach other progressives a few things about broadening their base. As David Moberg of In These Times puts it, 'Obama demonstrates how a progressive politician can redefine mainstream political symbols to expand support for liberal policies and politicians rather than engage in creeping capitulation to the right.'
7. Say so long to the DLC. Barry Goldwater suffered a resounding defeat when he ran for president against Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but his campaign spawned a conservative movement that eventually gained control of the Republican Party and elected Ronald Reagan in 1980. Progressives should see the excitement surrounding Dean, Kucinich, Moseley Braun, and Sharpton during the primary season as the foundation for a similar takeover of the Democratic Party.
8. 2008. President Bush is entering his second term facing an escalating casualty rate in Iraq, a record trade deficit, a staggering budget deficit, sky-high oil prices, and a deeply divided nation. As the Republicans face likely failure, progressives need to start preparing for regime change in 2008 or sooner. Remember that Nixon was reelected with a bigger margin than Bush, but faced impeachment within a year.
9. Americans are Not All Yahoos. Although I wouldn't attempt to convince a Frenchman of it right now, many surveys indicate that Americans are more internationalist than the election results suggest. In a September poll by the University of Maryland, majorities of Bush supporters expressed support for multilateral approaches to security, including the United States being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (68%), the International Criminal Court (75%), the treaty banning land mines (66%), and the Kyoto Treaty on climate change (54%). The problem is that most of these Bush supporters weren't aware that Bush opposed these positions. Stay and help turn progressive instincts into political power.
10. Winter. Average January temperature in Ottawa: 12.2°F.
Sarah Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.