The PJ Tatler

The Nation to Dems: Be More Like the Canadians

Retour vers le futur

Retour vers le futur

Yeah, that’s the ticket. And somehow fitting on this Back to the Future Day:

It may be true that American Democrats have nothing better to do than wait for Joe Biden to decide whether he will mount a third bid for the presidency. Or, failing that, to try to figure out what it is about democratic socialism that might appeal to underemployed young people who are burdened with staggering student debt and face the prospect of getting kicked off a parent’s health insurance plan. But if America’s Democrats could look away from the 2016 horse race for just a moment, they might actually learn something about going big—and winning big—from Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau placed a lot of emphasis on hope and change, which drew comparisons to Barack Obama’s inspired campaigns of 2008 and 2012. Obama and the Democrats faced significant challenges in both those US elections, but Obama’s skills and vision — and the ability of his campaign to forge unprecedented coalitions — transformed those electoral moments. In 2016, however, Democrats will not have Obama on the ballot; and as the 2010 and 2014 elections cycles confirmed, Democrats struggle politically in such circumstances. That’s why Trudeau’s example is instructive.

The prescription is pretty much what you’d expect from the house organ of the National Socialist American Workers Party: soak the rich, diversity, “infrastructure,” deficit spending, blah, blah, blah.

Trudeau did not run as a radical, which makes sense, as he is not one. But he did make a reasonably radical break with the tepid politics of too many political leaders in this age of austerity. Instead of fretting endlessly about spending and budget deficits, he declared that his priorities would be job creation and policies to benefit the middle class. And he said he would invest in the future, rather than cheating it with austerity cuts.

Trudeau proposed to tax the rich in order to fund programs for everyone else, declaring that “We can do more for the people who need it, by doing less for the people who don’t.” (And, notably, he coupled that concern for people who need economic help with a warm embrace of Canada’s ethnic and racial diversity that was starkly different from the Donald Trump–like messaging about immigrants and religious minorities that Harper employed in the final days of the campaign.)

More vital even than the promise of fair and progressive taxation after so many years of Harper’s of-the-rich, for-the rich, by-the-rich governance, however, was Trudeau’s proposal to invest massively in job-creating infrastructure programs. To fund the investment, Trudeau proposed that Canada could and should accept a reasonable level of deficit spending.

Back to the future, indeed. Bon chance, Canada!