Democracy Soup

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Posts Tagged ‘The World This Weekend

Canadians think Justin Trudeau represents the real change from Stephen Harper

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The Liberal Party of Canada is back in power after a 9-year absence during the reign of the Harper Government. For the first time in 11 years, the Liberals have a majority government.

Canadians had the longest campaign — 78 days — in modern political history. The country wanted change, but had to decide between Tom Mulcair of the NDP or the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau. Though Mulcair and the NDP had the early edge, perhaps they got a little cocky. Trudeau took awhile to find his voice, but once he did, the Liberals rose in the polls.

Stephen Harper wanted nothing to do with the English language broadcast consortium debate. Tom Mulcair took the Conservative bait and said he wouldn’t be there if Harper wasn’t showing up. Mulcair made that decision when the NDP was doing well. By the time of the scheduled debate (which wasn’t cancelled), the NDP was in 3rd place. A chance to debate with all the non-Conservatives would have been valuable.

There were more debates than usual: 4 instead of 2. But that 5th debate would have helped the NDP.

Here are links to our 2015 Canadian election coverage courtesy of our sister blog,

2015 Canadian election: Some final thoughts

Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act gets attention south of the border

Justin Trudeau begins new era as Canada’s newest prime minister

Our 2015 Canadian election coverage comprehensive guide

Canadian Canadian politics coverage


America needs to imagine what it can be to get out of its deep hole

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Anybody over a certain age sort of thinks that the best of times for our country are done. One thing that defined America for most of the last 225 years was that it was in love with the future. And I think a major shift, it’s now much more in love with its past, the way England was after the Second World War, the way France was after the Second World War, or the First World War. And that is where I think the Chinese, the Brazilians, the Indians – they’re in love with the future. I don’t think we feel quite that way now.

“For people of a certain age” is a useless phrase, unless you are of a certain age. Those of a certain age has noticed that something is off in our society. Okay, this means me, but I can’t be the only one.

The quote is from Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who was interviewed for The World This Weekend on CBC radio, reflecting on a decade after the September 11 attacks.

As tempting as it would be to pinpoint the 9/11 attacks as a turning point, let’s go back to the Newt Revolution of 1994.

The Dems had just lost control of the House for the first time in 40 years. And the new(t) guard was coming into power. Whatever you might have thought about Democratic or Republican ideals, the country had a sense of trying to solve problems.

Ronald Reagan had spoken about Morning in America, but it always felt like his vision of “morning” wasn’t a new day forward but re-starting some ideal that was best reflected by 1950s housewives doing housework while wearing pearls. Never mind that the ideal never was real, even in the 1950s.

Dan Quayle understood this Reaganesque concept when he attacked Murphy Brown for being a single mother on TV. When the MSM and those on the left chastised Quayle for his obsession with a never-was era, quietly, the base of this new revolution cheered.

The United States spent the rest of the 1990s pedaling in place, despite the best efforts of President Bill Clinton. The distractions against Clinton were purely politically motivated, but they did fit in well with the trend of petty squabbles over fixing a number of leaks in the economic roof. The up and coming Fox “News” Channel helped CNN steer so far down a path, Ted Turner would have turned over in his grave if he were dead.

Looking back, the 1990s were the roaring time economically, not just of the last 20 years, but the last 30 years. The last 10 years have produced such a backslide that the struggle just to get back to 2000 levels looks gigantically daunting.

The United States is many things, but above all, Americans don’t think about the rest of the world, unless they have oil or war or Muslims. This didn’t really work well when America dominated in so many categories, but fails us miserably when we don’t dominate any more.

Americans are isolationist in our psyche, even as they wreck havoc all around the world.

Carter’s quote gives us historical context to other societies that also reflected on the past. Countries we know of by name, even if we can’t relate. And they didn’t suffer as badly as the United States has in the last 10 years.

Thomas Friedman co-wrote a book on where America has been and where it needs to go. On “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Monday, Friedman described the formula that brought success to the United States.

“Educating our people up to and beyond whatever the technology was so they can get the most of it, having the best infrastructure, having the best immigration policy that attracted energetic and talented immigrants, having the best rules for capital investing and preventing recklessness, and lastly having the most government funded research.”

So the United States is trying to find a way forward where its people want direction and its leaders lack vision. Even trying what got Americans to the point where people wanted to come here can’t get off the ground. Look at Friedman’s list: are we doing any of those things?

One sentiment that kept the middle class from post World War II through the 1970s was making sure our children would be better off than we were. Reagan reduced that to a selfish notion about whether we were better off than we were 4 years ago. And even when the answer was “no,” Reagan still won in 1984.

As much as liberals laugh at conservatives wanting everything to be like “Leave It to Beaver,” liberals wouldn’t mind the economic growth, strong unions, and middle-class standards of that era.

Even going backward to then go forward would be an improvement over where we are now. Casey Kasem always told us to “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Our feet are on the ground, stuck in cement, and we can’t even see the stars.

Until we can see that we have a future as a country, we’ll be stuck not in the past, but wandering aimlessly in the smog clouds of the present.