Posted on 25-10-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Religion) by Rashtrakut

An interesting article by Time on the appearance by British National Party chief Nick Griffin on a BBC show last week.  An economic downturn combined with rising immigration seem to bring an upswing in the fortunes of parties like the BNP.

When mainstream parties latch on to this fervor it can backfire.  In the United States the California Governor Pete Wilson latched on to anti-immigrant fervor to win re-election in 1994.  When the fervor died down it emerged that he had driven Hispanic voters into the Democratic column for the foreseeable future.  Egged on by CNN commentator Lou Dobbs and Republican congressmen like Tom Tancredo, certain sections of the Republican party adopted a similar tack dooming the Presidential ticket in the Southwest and scaring off white middle class voters in the 2008 election.

But the Time article does raise a valid issue of how these concerns are to be addressed.   This issue has affected many other European countries like France, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary etc.  The fundamental problem in Europe has been that as non-immigrant societies they have struggled to integrate their immigrants.  Even though the United States has had nativist outbreaks dating back to Benjamin Franklin grumbling about German immigration, the immigrant populations have generally integrated into American society.

The burden does fall both ways.  While immigrants should have a right to have their religious and cultural traditions respected, they must also understand that their is a reason why they left their homelands to settle down far away and the inhabitants of the country can feel unsettled by a sudden influx of people who look, dress, eat, worship and talk differently.  A healthy dialogue of communities is essential to prevent repeats of stories like this one from last month.  For the follow up click here.

Ultimately a lot of the BNP’s support appears rooted in economic malaise.  Immigrants are likelier to compete for jobs with people at the lower rungs of the economic ladder.  The added competition in a shrinking job market provides a simple breeding ground for the type of emotions the BNP feeds on.  And job creation is not an easy task in the current economic climate.

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Posted on 25-10-2009
Filed Under (History, Politics & Propaganda) by Rashtrakut

The previous post on this topic delved back into ancient Indian history.  This one deals with a person still alive and of far more recent vintage.  The underlying thesis of this post is not as likely to be as uncontroversial.  The presidency of his son has done wonders for the image of George Herbert Walker Bush.  However, most of the praise has been directed to his wise decision not to invade Iraq without knowing what regime he would install to replace Saddam Hussein.

The problem with the 41st President was that unlike his predecessor and successor he struggled to connect emotionally with the American people.  Since the Great Depression the failure to capture the emotive aspect of the American presidency can make or break an American President.  With his aristocratic Yankee upbringing and ivy league background, George H. W. Bush never  managed to be a man of the people.  Coming from the now largely defunct centrist wing of the Republican party he also struggled to connect with the religious right and other hard right conservatives who increasingly constituted the true believers of the Republican Party.  The failure to connect with the public and the lukewarm relations with his base resulted in his failure to reap the benefits of the major successes in his term.

On domestic issues his term saw the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act, neither of which did much to endear him with his base.  However, the act that caused him the most grief was his sensible decision to raise taxes to combat the rising deficit.  This required reneging on his unfortunate pledge at the 1988 Republican Convention to not raise taxes and was the straw that broke the camel’s back with the increasingly vocal contingent of supply-siders in his party.  And then there came the recession.  This is where his inability to relate and provide assurance to the public haunted him.  When he protested loudly at the end of the presidential campaign that the recession was over, he was mocked.  The first jobs report after his presidency would show that he was right and that must have stung.  The failure to relate would result in him being the first Republican to not win re-election since Herbert Hoover (ironically Bill Clinton would be the first Democrat to be re-elected since Hoover’s successor Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Read the rest of this entry »

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