Canada's new Parliament with the Liberals firmly in power, met for their first Question Period today, and it's a preview of what is to come. A change in policies and, one hopes, a change in tone. My preview of the expected changes in Question Period are quoted in this CBC News article.
Once every generation, comes a tidal wave of change in the political world - in Canada, that was 1968 when Pierre Trudeau brought massive change to Canada - in politics, public policy, and style. In 1984 it was Brian Mulroney.
In 1960, it was John F. Kennedy who woke America up after the sleepy Eisenhower '50s with panache and vision. In 1980 it was Ronald Reagan. In 2008 it was Barack Obama.
The Tidal Wave Hits Canada
Flash forward to 2015 and that huge tidal wave is crashing into the world of politics in both Canada and the United States. Justin Trudeau, leader of the third party, put together a platform and a campaign strategy that swept into power, understanding that desire for 'real change' - not just in the 'what' but the 'how' of politics and policies.
The Speech from the Throne, the agenda setter for the next year or two of Parliament, was titled, 'Making Real Change Happen'. That pretty well says it all. From middle class tax cuts, to taxing the rich, to climate change and many social issues, the 'change' agenda is underway.
The Tidal Wave Hits the U.S.
|A 'steal' from Ronald Reagan|
It feeds on - and feeds - racist stereotypes that the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks have intensified.
|Not the real Larry David|
And on the farthest side of the political spectrum from Trump is Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) (a.k.a. Larry David) who has channeled the public's antipathy to 'politics as usual' into becoming a contender for the Democratic nomination.
Four years ago, who would have thought that either man would be a serious contender for the nominations of their parties?
What's Behind the 'Real Change' Phenomenon?
1. A feeling that 'politics as usual' has led the world to the mess that we're in. This would include global issues such as climate change and Syria. Both are huge generators of demand for real change for the left and the right.
2. The randomness of the home grown ISIL terrorist attacks has brought the specter of fear home to roost. In Canada, it's a much lower-grade 'concern' as the public aren't arming themselves in anticipation of Armegeddon. However, their concern about security was loud enough that the Trudeau government was forced to do a minor 'pivot' on their promise to bring over 25,000 Syrian refugees by December 31st, 2015. Instead, they moved the deadline to the end of February 2016 to ensure that the security checks would be thoroughly conducted. By listening and shifting accordingly, the public will forgive such a move.
3. Safe, 'moderate' politicians seem so yesterday. In the Canadian election, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, leading in the polls, positioned himself as a 'safe' balanced budget kind of social democrat in order to buffer himself from the wild 'tax and spend' accusations that would rein down on him and his party. Justin Trudeau, sensing that was the wrong way to go, adeptly moved to the 'left' of him on the economy - promising deficits of $10 billion annually - as well as on social issues (legalizing marijuana). Trudeau became the most viable and strongest 'alternative' to the status quo (Stephen Harper's Conservatives). In the U.S. Presidential race, Hillary Clinton made the mistake of calling herself a 'moderate' not that long ago. She quickly re-booted herself as a 'progressive' because that is the voting base of the Democrats. It also ensured that there would be no more slippage to Sanders. It seems to have worked. [Also Canadians noticed how often Tom Mulcair now invokes the word progressive' - alas, since the election.]
4. Social media has created numerous communities of interest who connect with each other, realize they have a voice, and have the channels to be heard. This has escalated in the past four years to the point where every age group is spending endless hours every day of online socializing, consuming and sharing information. It has, of course, a dark downside - as, for example, a recruiting ground for terrorists. But it also has the power to create huge waves of change - from the Arab Spring, to Ukraine, to those who felt that no one was listening and that they had no voice.
5. A charismatic leader who can focus and ride that wave of change with vision, energy and a tone of optimism for the future. Barack Obama in 2008 came out of nowhere to take the Presidency by storm, combining many of the elements identified above. Unlike Sanders and Trump, who are highly unlikely to win the Presidency, Obama was able to secure the nomination and broaden his appeal to grab the undecideds and swing voters, which put him over the top.
Charisma isn't enough - nor is any one of these components. It takes strategy and near-perfect execution. The Trudeau campaign put all of that together, and now they have the ability to follow through on their promises. Oh, and the fastest way to lose that mantle of leadership? Fail to follow through on your promises!
So, welcome to the world of 'real change'. It's not going away anytime soon.
Until next time!
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