MILQUETOAST

Posted in Rants on October 20th, 2015 by Ed

(Oh, why not.)

I won't pretend to be an authoritative source on the politics of countries other than the one in which I live, but like most Americans with an interest in politics I have paid some attention to the recent Canadian elections. Being friends with a bunch of Canadian Marxists doesn't hurt. Suffice it to say no one is doing cartwheels over the NDP's performance. All is not lost for the good people to the north, however. Harper and his Conservatives lost, unseated by Justin "Son of Pierre" Trudeau and his Liberal Party. I mean, the name sounds good. It's not quite what Americans would assume it is based solely on its moniker. It could generously be described as a center-left party, although in realistic (non-American) terms it is effectively a centrist party. Bill and Hillary would feel at home there, as would Tony Blair and others of the "New _____" mindset wherein "New" signifies "More like right-wing conservatives, but not as repugnant."

This will be hard to swallow for legitimate liberals or those even farther to the left, but man…that shit sells. Whatever portion of the electorate is not completely lost to the right wing noise and propaganda machine is likely to warm up to any party with a sorta-charming front man promising the weakest, least scary, least threatening to the status quo kind of liberalism. The message sounds Nice and the people delivering it don't look like bridge trolls, which is more than Tories/Republicans can say most of the time. The appeal of a sweet sounding, Liberalism Lite that takes trendy positions on issues like gay marriage and abortion while avoiding issues with sharp, nasty edges (poverty, racism, structural unemployment). And they're always eager to remind you that they're not those old fashioned "Tax & Spend Liberals" by proposing – co-opting from conservatives, really – issues like welfare reform, charter schools, or draconian cuts to social services.

Picture Hugh Grant as the foppish, effeminate fiancee of the charming working class girl, trying to fit in with her uncouth, low-class brothers by going on a hunting trip and killing a few animals. He figures if he shoots a deer they'll accept him; clearly he finds the exercise ridiculous, but he considers it necessary with no other obvious way to gain acceptance among people he looks upon with the gaze of an anthropologist. That's Jack Trudeau. That was Bill Clinton. That was Tony Blair. I don't like it any more than you do, but this shtick sells. And it's further evidence that after kicking the tires on every septuagenarian and no-name ex-Governor they can find, the Democratic Party is likely to circle back to Hillary Clinton in 2016. It's not that they think her brand of mushy centrism is great. They think she'll win, and there are enough people to whom that's all that matters to carry her through. What such campaigns lose on the far left (and it ain't much in the USA with no real leftist party to jump to) they gain in the center full of unmotivated, indistinct voters to whom the weakest tea will inevitably appeal the most.