Autumn is the season of political extremism

Mayor-elect of Toronto, Rob Ford. Photo: Creative Commons

They’re both ultra-conservative, populist deficit hawks who claim to be adamant political outsiders. Their platforms, or lack thereof, have drawn derision and scorn from political gurus. And they both have gaffes worthy of their own YouTube channels.

But they’ve probably never heard of each other. One’s now the mayor of Canada’s largest city, the other a former state Assemblywoman from small-town Nevada.

On November 25th, the voters of Toronto elected the inflammatory Rob Ford to the office of Mayor by an astonishing 95,000-vote margin. Hardly the photo finish that pundits predicted.

Here was a guy who painted himself as a City Hall outsider, with his famous “stop the gravy train” slogan to cut reckless spending in government, though he had served in Council for ten years. His verbal history is painful to read (and indeed to recall): he “[doesn’t] understand a transgender,” told a homeless protester “why [he didn’t] get a job,” and thought the G20 “police force was too nice.”

He's quite the character, if not much else.

South of the border—and I mean way south, as in Las Vegas, Nevada—Sharron Angle is leading the United States’ highest-ranking Senator, Harry Reid, in a contest for the seat that Reid has held for decades.

Majority Leader Reid losing his seat can be compared to Kim Campbell losing her’s in Vancouver in 1993. How did that election go for the Progressive Conservatives? 

Okay, the Democratic Party won’t implode like the PCs did. But they’re in a world of hurt in the November 2nd mid-term elections that will elect the entire House of Representatives and almost half of the Senate.

Sharron Angle is a walking blooper reel. She’s opposed to abortion in any instance, claiming that women who have been raped should turn a “lemon situation into lemonade.” She calls for “second-amendment remedies” (read: use of guns) to combat Congress. Her attack ads paint pictures of scary Latinos hopping the border, and when she was asked about it, she claimed that it was actually America’s northern border through which the terrorists come.

Those scary Canadian terrorists!

Barack Obama’s Democrats have all but given up on clinging to their majority in the House of Representatives. The Republicans must gain 39 seats for John Boehner to swipe the Speaker’s gavel from progressive San Francisco congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Even conservative estimates put the Democrats as the losers of some fifty-odd seats—high-ranking Democrats themselves fear that they’ll lose more than 70. That could be the biggest blowout in American history.

The Senate seems to be slightly more secure, but that doesn’t change the fact that Tuesday will see the United States react sharply to the right a week after the city of Toronto did. 

Moderation and compromise in American politics has long since passed by. Voters complain about deadlock and inefficiency in Congress, but are electing representatives like Sharron Angle who run most of their campaigns on the word “no.” As candidates like Christine O’Donnell, the anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, anti-masturbation (!) Republican nominee for Senator in Delaware emerge by defeating moderate, experienced, and compromising Republicans like Mike Castle, Republican voters are purging their party of moderate legislators.

And because political discontent continues to spread epidemically across the States, more conservative Democrats are losing their seats. The only Democrats that will remain on November 3rd are the ones in staunchly progressive districts.

The end result is more politics on the fringe, less compromise, and more deadlock. If voters are upset now, how upset will they be when partisan bickering only increases with the new session?

Rob Ford rode a wave of uncertainty to the Mayor’s chair. It didn’t matter that none of his math made sense—he says he’s going to cut spending but keep all the services—Toronto voters were upset enough at the establishment—acting against the advice of Canada’s two largest newspapers-- and elect an unknown who plays extreme right-wing politics.

In the States, the mood is only angrier.

Unemployment can’t seem to drop from 10%. The U.S. deficit will be Third World-esque in the next couple years.
It doesn’t matter that proposed Republican tax cuts will increase the deficit by $700 billion or that unemployment would be near Great Depression levels if the Democrats had not stepped in.

American voters are upset enough at the establishment to go against common sense and elect a collection of political unknowns whose political views would be hilarious were they not completely serious.

There’s anger in the air this autumn, on both sides of the border. It turned a very competitive race in Toronto to a conservative landslide- who knows what havoc it will wreak in Washington D.C. tomorrow? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be painful to watch.

In fact, by the time the dust settles on Election Day, I might be crawling to Ms. Angle, begging her to perform on me some "second amendment remedies."

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