After Stephen Harper and the Conservatives were elected, less than five months after we moved to Canada, I was besieged with questions about how this affected our decision to emigrate. Some of these were of the wingnut variety - ha ha, what are you gonna do now, move to France? - which display total ignorance, about Canada, about the US, about us. But many questions were legitimate concerns from progressive Americans worried that Canada was no longer a safe haven from US-style madness.

I blogged about this a lot, including posting an excellent piece by John Nichols, an American writer who covers Canadian politics. (Worth reading.)

Now that the Democrats have finally managed to capitalize on Republican incompetence and scandal, and overcome vote-rigging, many people here have asked me if this changes the picture.

Putting aside that my unhappiness with the US goes back 25 years - putting aside that I voted Democrat only locally or occasionally nationally - putting aside that we love it in Canada, and spent thousands of dollars and years of our lives trying to get here - there's a fundamental misperception going on here.

There's a tendency - on both sides of the border - to equate the Canadian Conservative Party with the Republicans and the Liberals with the Democrats. Most Canadians I know think Hillary Clinton is very liberal. Most Americans I know think Stephen Harper is the Canadian George Bush.

I get tired of repeating myself over and over. So I'm grateful to Idealistic Pragmatist for saving me the trouble. She's done the homework, and can offer the proof.

Ms. I Pragmatist has compared Stephen Harper and Hillary Clinton on five issues: military intervention in the Middle East, anti-terrorism security, health care, campaign finance reform, and same-sex marriage. On most issues, they are identical. On some, Harper is significantly farther to the left.

Idealistic Pragmatist has anticipated your caveats and complaints, and she's addressed them all. For example:
Now, I can hear some of you sputtering that this isn't really a fair comparison. Stephen Harper is currently moving a progressive country further right, you say, while a potential President Hillary Clinton would move a conservative country further left. If left to their own devices, you argue, Harper would almost certainly come up with far more conservative policies than he's presented to the country in recent years, and Clinton would surge left and make all sorts of radical changes. [My note: we've seen absolutely no evidence, ever, that Clinton would do this.] This may or may not be true--we can't exactly peer inside their respective heads--but sure, there's certainly a chance that it is.

But that only confirms the point I was trying to make when I made my original statement about the positions they each occupy on the political spectrum. In Canada, even a true-blue Conservative like Stephen Harper has to face up to the reality of a country that's decidedly to the left of him and modify his preferred policies accordingly. And in the U.S., the furthest left their current top Democratic presidential candidate is willing to go is still to the right of the most conservative government Canada has had in a long, long time. Believe me, I'm anything but happy with Harper and Co.'s sharp right turn for Canada, and I will certainly continue to criticize his policies in my blog. But the fact is that without a majority government--and possibly even then--he's still further left than most of the U.S. Democrats, including their current frontrunner for the presidential nomination.
I thank I/P for this truly brilliant post. If you haven't seen it yet, please go read it right now.

P.S. You can vote for Idealistic Pragmatist for Best Progressive Blog.

P.P.S. The taglines are a happy coincidence.

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