Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Will 2019 Be the Year Right Wing Populism Tries to Take Ottawa?

2019 could be a bare knuckle election for Canada, one in which milquetoasts will be easy meat. That, according to a Macleans article by Michael Valpy and Frank Graves:

As Canadians, we sit atop the continent, watching as our neighbours slide into cultural civil war. It has become easy to just be appalled as America becomes riven, with social media and antagonistic rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum erasing the middle ground. There are two Americas, incommensurably separated on the fundamental issues of the day: climate change, the economy, social issues like health and education, employment, the media, immigration in particular, and globalization and free trade. 
We’ve learned more and more about the populism that has fuelled this complicated moment as the fracture in America races like wildfire throughout Western democracies. It is the biggest force reshaping democracy, our economies and public institutions. It is the product of economic despair, inequality, and yes, racism and xenophobia. It is an institutional blind spot, largely denied or ridiculed by the media, and by the more comfortable and educated portions of society. 
It is very much alive in Canada. In fact, our populist explosion has already had its first bangs and is likely to have a major impact on next year’s federal election.
...Meanwhile, research over the last 10 years has found that Canada, like the United States, is turning into a society fissured along fault lines of education, class and gender. These are social chasms defined by the concentration of wealth at the top of society and, for everyone else, by economic pessimism and stagnation; by a comfortable feeling on one end of the societal teeter-totter, and a fear on the other end that a subscription to the middle-class dream might no longer be available.

Although there has been a recent uptick for the first time in 15 years, the portion of Canadians who self-identify as middle class since the turn of the century has declined from 70 per cent to 45 per cent, a stark number that mirrors America’s—signalling that Canadians have a deeply pessimistic view of their personal economic outlook. Only one in eight Canadians thinks they’re better off than a year ago. Only one in eight thinks the next generation will enjoy a better life.
The irony is that populism is no exclusive preserve of the radical right.  Populism, presented in the form of progressivism, is very much centrist. There was a time when progressivism had at least some toehold within the Liberal Party. The Liberals, however, chose to embrace the global neoliberal order which gutted their ability and willingness to accommodate progressivism where it mattered (see the two paragraphs above).

Six months into his term, Justin Trudeau proclaimed himself, first and foremost, a global free trader even as his finance minister, Morneau, told Canadians they were being consigned to the precariat and would have to get used to a working life of "job churn," living from paycheque to paycheque and hoping not to fall between the cracks. There was a time a Liberal would sooner swallow hot coals than say those things, at least openly.

When Trudeau displaced Harper I had hoped he would heal the divide Harper nurtured and exploited to take power. Trudeau, to his credit, has tried to unite Canadians but he hasn't tried hard enough. There's only so far he can go and remain true to his neoliberal creed.  Trudeau stops well short and, in the result, hands our far right the powerful weapon of populism.

The old nonsense about "it's the economy, stupid" is not the reality of today. Fear is driving public opinion and fear is easily manipulated. Trudeau needs a much better sense of where he stands.


Jay Farquharson said...

When the Dipper’s imploded after losing Mulclair, and disappearing in the last Election, they removed any pressure on the Liberals to legislate towards the left.

Trudeau is legislating from “the center”, which on issues other than social justice issues, like everywhere else in the world, has since the 1970’s, shifted more and more “right”. Even the Dippers moved right. Singh sit’s on the spot on The Political Compass that Trudeau’s Dad used to occupy.

Scheer’s “economic popualism” platform is exactly what became exposed as what it was in the 2016 US elections. A dogwhistle for racism, fear, anger and resentment.

How did Reich Wing “economic popualism” work out for soybean farmers, Carrier workers, Ford workers, GM workers, coal miners, steel workers, unions or the minimum wage?

But, pundit’s gotta pundit and because they are lazy and ignorant, they can’t actually write about platforms, policies, issues, so they write lazy stories about horse racing and “what if’s”.

How are the Con’s polling these days?

The Mound of Sound said...

Jay, I'd feel more confident in your assurances if it wasn't for Doug Ford and Donald Trump, both of whom were supposedly unpopular until election night.

Jay Farquharson said...

The Insane Clown POSus got elected by 80,000 votes in 3 States, working with a massive ratfucking operation and voter interference by Russia, Israel and Sawdi Arabia, aided and abetted by a willing MSM, a rogue NYC FBI Office, Wikileaks, Cambridge Analetica, racism, mysogeny, gerrymandering and voter supression.

Lost the popular vote by over 300,000.

80,000 votes. 0.006% of the vote.

Ford ran on “nothing but change” against a 16 year record of bad Government, lost all the citys but won the rural fold and the resentful suburbs. Everybody hates Toronto. How’s Ford polling these day’s and how is the Buyers Remorse going?

Scheer’s running on what? Mini Trump.

Pundits writing about election results in a horse race fashion before the writ has dropped, or platforms and policies have been written,

Meh. Clickbait op-ed “Journomentalism” based on vague generalizations,......

Do you really think Scheer and the Harpercon’s No New NAFTA, No NAFTA, “I can get a better deat” team up with O’Leary is going to sell well?

The Mound of Sound said...

lost the popular vote by about 3-million, Jay.

Anonymous said...

Doug Ford is an anomaly. He became leader of the OPCs basically the same way the electoral college made Trump President. The majority of PCs didn't want him. And the majority of Ontarians didn't vote PC. Unfortunately our one time proposed MMP is not in place. Maybe the Liberals will learn something from this. Actually, probably not. However, electing a Ford led government was not a populist led movement. It was an anti-too-long-in-power-stupid-decision-making-Liberal vote. I suspect most Ontarians expected a minority PC government. Well, that'll learn 'em. Now 4 years of Mike Harris mini-me.


Purple library guy said...

Right wing populism is a threat, certainly. But Scheer is not its representative. Sure, he's a slimebucket, but he's an old school Conservative slimebucket--he's boring. I don't see Scheer convincing any beer drinkers in the burbs that he's one of them.

As one might expect, I'm pining for some good old fashioned left wing populism.

Clarke said...

Liberal policy nowadays really reminds me of Clinton's famed triangulation strategy. The problem with this approach in the long term is that it assumes your original base will take its hits and stick with you because they have nowhere else to go while you do your outreach to moderate right wingers. What actually happens is that your base eventually turns to a disruptor option or just sits out elections.