Political Lessons From Obama

It’s not been a good week for American Democrats and their supporters in Canada. Extremist Republicans now control both Houses in the US government and the consequences for Canadians are not pretty. The Keystone XL Pipeline will likely get passed though not without plenty of people getting hauled off to jail first. Young women who need an abortion may find themselves out of a doctor in many States very soon. The War, which wasn’t mentioned during the run up to the midterm elections, will heat up. And so on, down the dreary list.

Which brings me to the question haunting me: why did this happen?

Since we’re about to elect a new Federal Government in less than a year, it’s not idle speculation. Maybe we can learn something from the disaster down south, if we can just figure out what is happening there. So, here’s my 5cents worth of wisdom.

To begin with: do not follow the money. Resistance is not futile. This was the most expensive mid term election ever held. The money for the Republicans came courtesy of the Koch Brothers, and those billions made an impact. Less but still a big chunk came from Bloomberg, the ex Mayor of New York, propping up the Democratic cause. We have more stringent rules re money buying power, but we tend to follow the US in most things, so be careful that the rules won’t suddenly, magically, change. Watch Harper pushing this agenda. Voters should beware of selling their souls and votes to the gravy train that will magically appear between now and next October.

Second, do not disappoint your base. Obama did this and the results came in this week. During this midterm, only 13% of voters under the age of 30 showed up to vote. Women didn’t come out either, as did the Latinos. Obama waffled, fell silent, and kind of forgot the promises on the environment, women’s rights, and immigration he made to these voters who elected him in 2008. They stayed away in droves this time, and one can only wonder what this deeply disappointed demographic will do next. Become Zombies? Stop voting? Either way, it’s not good for Democracyimages-1.

So: stick to your party guns. The NDP and Mulcair need to pay attention to this and not begin to weaken or muddy their messaging. The siren call to the so called ‘centre’ can be compelling. It’s what got Obama into this situation where he is basically sidelined. As for Mr. Trudeau, there’s not much there to discuss. He will continue to look good and sound bad. All one can hope for is that Canadians will lose interest, as one loses interest in a very pretty but air headed girl friend. The only natural born politician we have, Elizabeth May, is showing us how to do politics right. But nobody will elect her party, for reasons totally unclear to me.

Which leaves us with only one option: pray for a miracle, like a truly intelligent and awake electorate next October. And a United Left.

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