Thursday, May 11, 2017
Lessons from Dead Roosevelts
If you're looking for something to rehabilitate your faith in democracy you might check out Ken Burns' 7-part documentary, "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History."
I've always found Theodore Roosevelt fascinating, especially the epiphanies that marked his life and transformed him into a conservationist, a progressive and something of a non-militarist (I'll stop well short of 'pacifist').
There was an interesting part in the segment I watched (again) last night dealing with how Roosevelt turned progressive. It came about when he concluded that the two mainstream parties had become mirror images of each other, both divorced from the needs and interests of ordinary Americans.
The term "political capture" wasn't in use in the early 20th century yet that seems to be what Roosevelt was getting at and why he thought America needed a third party to champion progressivism and restore representative democracy to the people. You can find much of Roosevelt's thinking in the text of his Square Deal speech.
I think the neoliberal era we've endured for the past 30+ years has returned us to the conditions that Roosevelt decried just over a century ago.
Our mainstream parties have become almost mirror images of each other and are well divorced from the needs and interests of our people. Time and again we're forced to watch Trudeau emulate his predecessor. All of Trudeau's inspirational campaign talk about electoral reform, social licence and such was promptly shed like a snake's skin once he gained power.
We need a Theodore Roosevelt and, no, I don't mean the NDP. Whatever grand principles they once claimed were too freely jettisoned as first Layton and then Mulcair led the rampage to the centre/centre-right with the approval of most of their rank and file. Like the Liberals and the Conservatives, they're running a serious trust deficit.
If you haven't read the Square Deal speech or at least one of my several summaries of it, just click on the link. Read Roosevelt's words and then ask yourself if what he espoused more than a century ago isn't desperately needed in Canada today. Ask yourself if you can think of a better way to free Canadians from the shackles of neoliberalism.