The Death of Liberal Democracy
Something ugly is coming to Canada. Something that will rock the foundations of society itself; a cataclysmic event that will call into question every assumption we possess about the way we live and the way we are governed. Something that will mark the end of an era.
Liberal democracy is dying.
For so long we’ve collectively believed that liberal-democratic values are ultimately what unite us all. The swarms of disenchanted masses have been spoon-fed a narrative that this is the only way to live, the right way to live. From birth, we are told a rosy story about upholding democracy, liberty, and justice; these are the pillars upon which we build. This story is, for many, the only way to make sense of the world. And yet, for more and more people, it just doesn’t provide enough answers. The curtains have fallen, revealing the crooked machinations of a system which no longer represents the values of the modern populace, which bends at will to the moral impotence of capitalism, which serves a ruling class of establishment hacks above all else. The emperor has no clothes, and everyone’s fucking pissed.
The convenient answer to this growing rejection of the political status quo seems to be Donald Trump, and of course Trump has had a role to play in radicalizing the Canadian right and stirring up anti-globalist fervor. But Trump as an answer doesn’t satisfy the question; how did this happen? It wasn’t simply an outpour of racism and bigotry that lead people to reject the Liberal tenets of governing; the same sentiment of rejection can be just as easily found on the socialist left. So what’s causing all of this?
In short, well, it’s liberalism. It’s centre-left governing. It’s playing both sides of the ticket. Liberals, Trudeau and Clinton alike, believe in this sort of mythical middle-ground that can be attained through governing. They believe that they are capable of pleasing everyone with ‘common sense’ policies. They believe that by flirting between the increasingly polarized distinctions of left and right, that the perfect form of authority can be reached. The truth, of course, is always in the middle.
This feeble desire for a non-existent moderate ground was never more tangible than it was within Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She scoffed at the wildly popular social-democratic propositions put forth by Bernie Sanders while courting billionaire donors for campaign finances. She rejected the near universal call to court working class vote, which, looking back, was the obvious catalyst of the election, and instead touted around Lena Dunham (are you seriously fucking kidding me?). She ignored all of these calls to rebuild a desperate and angry mass of working people, who would vote for change no matter how it manifested, and decided to focus on the character of her opponent. She opted to hit the NaeNae on Ellen and hang out with that insufferable fucking nerd who wrote Hamilton. Her main messaging against Trump was probably the last thing that any rust belt citizen wanted to hear, “America is already great.” And shockingly, as none of her latte-guzzling smooth-brained bourgeois staff could possibly predict, she lost. Because of fucking course she did. Nobody who’s facing real hardship; unemployment, an opioid epidemic and lack of healthcare (trust me, there’s a lot of them) is going to respond positively to “America is already great”. It doesn’t apply to their material conditions.
So it’s not really that Trump won the election, it’s more so that Hillary lost the election. America overwhelming kicked the status quo of liberal-democratic governance to the curb. Turns out they don’t care much for it.
The same phenomena is, sooner or later, coming to Canada. You can see it in the early stages quite clearly; an emergence of alt-right media, the tangible vitriol that virtually every Ontarian holds against Kathleen Wynne, an anger with Trudeau’s true governing style. You see, Trudeau, unlike Clinton, understood the importance of making big shiny campaign promises to excite the left and it worked wonders. But now we see just how worthless he is. It’s as though the whole left-wing of the country was in a coma for the Harper years, desperate for change no matter how it arrived, just please God, not 4 more years of Harper. We were enchanted by Trudeau’s promises, he espoused hope for the country in all of us. We weren’t exactly sure what we wanted, but it wasn’t Harper, and Trudeau seemed like an angel sent from above. So we elected him. Hell, even I voted for him. But then we all woke up & the fog of Harper’s Canada finally cleared, and we realized, “Jesus Christ. This is not what I wanted at all.”
He broke his electoral reform promise, his big talk on rebuilding Indigenous relations has fallen flat, he’s approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, because of fucking course he did, and to try and pathetically distance himself from Trump, he keeps touting the most nauseating fucking talking point about “balancing security and multiculturalism”. So of course, Trudeau and the Liberals have learned absolutely nothing from Clinton’s defeat and continue to court the non-existent voter bloc of political moderates. Meanwhile, the right hates him, and the left hates him, and he is left with no one aside from establishment weirdos and sheltered white liberals.
It’s hard to say what will come of the Liberal’s inevitable collapse. If America serves as any indication, it will be an opportunity seized by the far-right (Kellie Lietch or Kevin O’Leary) to double down on the already-reactionary aspects of Canadian government. But if party leaders in the NDP were smart, they would look to the messaging of none other than Bernie Sanders, the only candidate who could have defeated Trump.
And to the crooked and corrupt brand of liberal democracy that we’ve called home for far too long, I say, goodbye and fuck off.