McCain and the Constellation of Global Leaders
By Bruce Walker
September 15, 2008
Canada will have a general election before America does. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power in January 2006 with a minority government. The Conservatives had a plurality of seats in the House of Commons and since then has governed because the four other major parties - Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebec, and the Greens - cannot or will not join together to bring his government down.
Public opinion polls right now are divided, but most show Conservatives doing better than in the last general election. The latest Angus Reid poll shows Conservatives with 36% of the vote; Liberals with 28%; the New Democratic Party with 18%; the Bloc Quebec with 9%; and the Greens with 8%. The respective showings of those five parties in the 2006 general election were 36%, 30%, 18%, 11%, and 5%. Other polls show Conservatives may win a clear majority in the House of Commons.
Silvio Berlusconi won a landslide in Italy last April. This Italian conservative made no bones during Iraqi Freedom of his support for America. When Gerhardt Schroeder was trying to give President Bush all the trouble he could in Germany, Berlusconi was more than willing to remind the German Chancellor which nations had histories of liberating peoples, as we did in Iraq, and which nations had other sorts of histories. Berlusconi not only won big in April, but public opinion polls in Italy show that the Italian people would return his coalition to power by an even bigger landslide today. Parties of the Right in Italy, like in Canada, have more political appeal now than when they won their last general election. That is a recurring theme among major democracies.
Angela Merkel is very popular in Germany, and her Right of Center CDU/CSU Party today has a coalition government with the Leftist SDP. She has been a much better friend of America than the odious Schroeder. The state elections in Hesse, Lower Saxony, and Hamburg this year have all led to plurality victories for the CDU/CSU, which bodes well for Merkel. National polling data also shows that if a general election was held now that the CDU / CSU and the more traditionally moderate to conservative FDR would together form an absolute majority in the Bundestag. All that is a convoluted way of saying that Angela Merkel might soon be able to govern Germany without needing to have a coalition with the Left.
In Britain, the Labour Party government of Gordon Browne, the "London insider" equivalent of our "Washington insider," is limping along with polls showing the British people have absolutely no confidence in him or in his party at all. Traditional rules of responsible parliamentary government would - or should - have compelled such an unpopular government to resign and call elections, but everyone in the United Kingdom can see that the Conservative Party would win an enormous landslide and David Cameron would be a prime minister with a powerful mandate for changing the direction of British politics and government. How bad is it for Labour now? The most recent poll, which is utterly in line with the last year of polls, shows the Conservative Party getting 46% of the vote; Labour getting a dismal 25% of the vote; and the moderate Liberal Party drawing 13% of the vote - it does not get much worse for a party in power.
The single weak spot is France, where President Sarkozy is dealing with a bout of unpopularity. But even in France, his poll numbers are only mildly weak (while the office of the President of France is very powerful and fairly immune to voter unhappiness.) His prime minister, Fillon, has a positive approval rating of 52% and a negative approval rating of only 41%, so the government of France is still doing well.
What does all this mean? Recall that earlier this year John McCain took a trip overseas to visit the leaders of other major democracies (McCain also visited with David Cameron, the British Conservative Party Leader who is a big fan of John McCain.) If the constellation of politics in these important nations is lining up into a conjunction of the moderate Right and if McCain is truly viewed as a thoughtful, serious leader of these nations, then this could mean a lot.
Obama does not know these people at all. In fact, Obama is a deeply ignorant, utterly scripted man. Stephen Harper, the leader of our oldest and closest ally, Canada, was "President of Canada," rather than Prime Minister Harper. Leaders like Harper, Merkel, Berlusconi, and Sarkozy are working in a global environment haunted by the shadows of Stalin, the mayhem of murderous mullahs, and the awakening of an authoritarian Chinese super state. We need them and, even more, they need us. But they do not need some silly socialist who will mimic the failures of Jimmy Carter and call those failures success. Security and world affairs are the strong suit of McCain, and his views dovetail wonderfully with those of Merkel, Harper, Cameron, et al.
If McCain wins, there is real hope that he could join the major democracies into a de facto United Nations of Democracies, joined in a common aim of resisting Putinism, protecting Western values and lives, helping Israel, and guiding China toward peaceful pragmatism. Four years ago, when Kerry bragged about all the foreign leaders who wanted him to be president, there was a grain of truth in Kerry's words - Chirac, Chretien, and Schroeder were the virulent America-hating leaders of France, Canada, and Germany. Today, for a pleasant change, the politics of these major democracies are lining up on the right - and the Right - side.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.