Monday, July 10, 2006

Center-Right Parties Stand For Change

Instapundit pointed me to this Michael Barone piece and I think you should read it, too. Here's an excerpt:

Symmetrical politics. There is also a fascinating symmetry in the recent election results in the three NAFTA nations: Mexico, Canada, and the United States. All chose center-right governments by narrow margins, installed by minorities of the voters. Calderon's 35.9 percent of the vote in a three-party system is eerily similar to the 36.3 percent won by Stephen Harper's Conservative Party in Canada's four-party system. We all know about Bush's two elections. All three leaders have been opposed vociferously, indeed often considered illegitimate, by the metropolitan elites of New York, Toronto, and Mexico City. All three beat parties that claimed only they had national reach--the Democrats here, the Liberals in Canada, and PRI in Mexico--but that were tarred with scandal when they were voted out of office.

All three won thanks to huge margins in economically vibrant hinterlands--George W. Bush's Texas, Stephen Harper's Alberta, Vicente Fox's Guanajuato. Calderon carried the Mexican states north of metro Mexico City by 47 to 22 percent over Lopez Obrador. These are the states where you find giant new factories, glistening shopping malls, rising office buildings, new middle-class subdivisions, Wal-Marts, freshly paved highways. This is the Mexico that NAFTA has brought into being. Just as Bush carried most of our fastest-growing states and Harper's Conservatives carried Canada's fastest-growing province, so Mexico's northern states, which produced more than half the nation's population growth from 2000 to 2005, voted PAN.

These center-right parties all stand for change--change in the sense of allowing a vibrant private sector to grow and alter our ways of living and making a living. Their opponents tend to stand against change, for the vested interests of public-sector unions, for (in Canada and Mexico) the subsidy of anti-American metropolitan elites. Some years ago, I predicted that NAFTA would produce a Texafication of North America. NAFTA was in large part a Texas project, pushed forward by President George H. W. Bush and shepherded to ratification here by Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, who grew up in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and in Mexico by President Carlos Salinas, who grew up in nearby Monterrey. Since 1993, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have all become more like Texas, as people move away from high-tax and slow-growth places. Bush in 2000 and Harper and Calderon in 2006 would not have won on the demographics of the 1980s. But they won on the demographics of today--though, let's remember, by narrow margins. [Italics and bolded emphasis added.-ed]

My favorite quote? "...the United States, Canada, and Mexico have all become more like Texas..." I knew there were good reasons to move here! After nine years here, I can tell you, I didn't get here fast enough.

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