I applaud the resignation of US Senator James Jeffords from the Republican Party to become an independent in the Senate, along with his stated intentions to vote with the Democrats on a host of major issues. Much will be written about this historic event in the coming days and many will concentrate on topics such as starwars, the environment, and US foreign policy. The reason we in the rest of the world should breathe a collective sigh of relief, is one that reflects more on US Domestic affairs than world influence.
Just as with people, the way a nation thinks of itself controls its actions and so affects all around it.
The Democrats taking control of the Senate means a Democratic Leader of that house, and the control of several very influential committees moving to the Democrats. One of those is the committee to approve the nominees for the post of Supreme Court Judge. The Bush administration has lined up for approval men who if approved would form the most right wing Supreme Court in history. Supreme Court judges are in for life. They don't step down when the administration that appointed them leaves, or better said loses office.
Their influence and effect on what Americans can and cannot do in their daily lives is enormous. A heavily right wing court would change the face of America for years, possibly decades to come. Some people would welcome this change of direction. Those who see America through the eyes of Bush and his administration naturally would.
However for those who see Bush and his ideas as an anathema, or at best as a nasty lurch towards firebrand conservatism and fundamentalism, todays resignation raises the first glimmer of hope. It may just be possible to hold Bush in check till the next elections come around and the American people regain their collective senses.
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