A cautionary tale about political grandstanding
Special contribution by Mike Fancie
I have a confession: I really enjoy being right about things.
When Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government started breaking its platform promises, I plastered social media with passionate (read: borderline ragey) anti-Liberal content. As someone with years of front-line experience with cynical Liberal power plays, I had limited hopes for Team Trudeau. And I wanted people to know that I was skeptical.
It didn’t work too well.
My neighbours, like many of us across Canada, had just overwhelmingly elected a Liberal MP. Regardless of past transgressions, they wanted to give the new guys a chance, and most people don’t follow politics closely enough to watch the scandals pile up. (Nor should they. We all have the right to a life outside of politics.) By failing to see that the change in government had made people feel hopeful, my negative lecturing backfired in the face of a Facebook feed full of friends who had used their ballots to vote for Liberals.
Fortunately for progressive organizers, the Liberal government has racked up a remarkable rap sheet of broken promises in just over a year of power. Aside from recent electoral reform and Syrian immigration backpedaling, the Liberals have failed to fund First Nations education, they haven’t repealed a word of Bill C-51, and they’re following the same emissions targets set by Stephen Harper. Heck, even Katimavik is publicly begging Trudeau to follow through on his promise to re-fund its youth leadership programming.
The cracks in Justin Trudeau’s government are starting to show; as organizers, we can choose one of two rhetorical paths. On the one hand, we can keep trying the “I told you so” approach by pointing out that Liberals never keep their promises and hope we can inspire enough disgust to turn the political tide. This tactic feels good because it involves saying that we were right all along… but it doesn’t do much to bring someone on board since they are being forced to admit they voted for the wrong person before they can be organized.
Incidentally, the Liberals want us to take this approach because it turns our supposed strength into our weakness. By spending our time raging, we are amplifying the image Justin Trudeau wants people to see: a unifying political leader who respects people’s diverse views and never stops smiling.
So how can we both neutralize that manoeuvre and build progressive capacity in communities where many of our potential allies voted for a Liberal?
Here’s my pitch: take it slow, stay positive, and help people figure out for themselves that they voted for the wrong guy. Talk to your neighbours about left politics and find common ground. If you talk about an issue where the Liberals have fallen short, point out that the Liberals have said one thing and done another, then suggest positive ways to solve the political problem at hand.
From there, keep tugging on loose threads. Slowly but surely over the next two years, we’ll build the strong networks and movements that will serve us well when Justin Trudeau has to answer for the broken promises we knew were coming.
Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue was born in Ireland and now lives in London, Ontario. Her last book, Room, was highly successful and was made into a film for which she also wrote the screenplay. It was the story of a woman and her son being held captive in a man’s shed: not the most uplifting subject and yet told with lightness and might. Her most recent book, The Wonder, builds on a different theme: an eleven-year-old girl in the Ireland of the 1850’s stops eating for religious and spiritual reasons. Here too, Emma Donoghue treats a dark topic with so much grace.
The story begins with Lib, an English nurse who worked during the Crimean War and lived through its horrors. She is sent to a small village in Ireland on assignment. Only upon arrival does she learn that she will be watching over Anna, a young girl who appears to not have eaten since her eleventh birthday, four months ago. Lib and another nurse, a nun, will split shifts to oversee the girl’s activities in the name of a committee tasked with uncovering the truth, or upholding it, around the mysterious fasting girl.
Citizens’ Press revisits great works of literature
It is widely said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. While this should be obvious to any modern society, these times require us to never take for granted some of the most basic assumptions. As we seek answers to understand the increasingly divided, unequal, and unpredictable world we live in, going back in time and space is a good place to start. It seems more appropriate than ever to revisit great classics of literature, to soak in the world order that once was dominant to understand the context and conflicts of today.
Many avid readers have hopes to make it through a significant number of great classics over their lifetimes. While an ambitious project, it has the advantage of giving perspective, depth, and analysis to book lovers of all sorts. Reading through historical works allows us to gain knowledge about the authors, their lives, and the time period they lived in. categories: [“What’s Left”]
From time to time, the team at Citizens’ Press will dive into a classic work of literature and outline its relevance for today’s readers. You may find it overly ambitious to read through all classics yourself, but we hope to bring you short summaries and insights into books you may have not read. Perhaps this will even encourage you to pick them up for yourself.
The reviews will be tagged under Classics and featured in the Arts and Culture section. Books read in French will be reviewed in French, and books read in English will be reviewed in English.
While the fight for social justice remains hard and gruelling, our hope is to remind socialists that the road to justice and equality is a long one, and the struggle continues, even today.
1. Fort Minor - Kenji
2. Fuck Donald Trump - YG (ON REPEAT FOR 4 YEARS!)
3. Remember When ‘Figaro’ Was Set in Trump Tower?
• The scenario sounds eerily familiar: A plutocrat on a high floor in Trump Tower wields enormous political power, while a woman in his employ worries that he believes that his wealth and position entitle him to do anything he wants with her.
4. Bruce Springsteen - Don’t hang up on me!
5. Refused - Rather Be Dead
“WHAT WE SHARED LAST WEEK”