"The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us." - Theodore RooseveltIn an attempt to restore Canada's progressive nature, Canadians have to continually tap into the movements and leaders who helped to steer us in the right direction. And while up until five years ago, we felt that we were an independent and sovereign nation, our future now lies in the hands of Republican strategists and Tea Party sponsors, who are all part of the neoconservative movement.
Stephen Harper and his Corporate Party of Canada, has given us their Religious Right, who now set our moral code. He's adopted their foreign policy, meaning that we will continually be at war and must love Israel more than our own country. And he has given us their toxic politics, making a mockery of democracy, and turning Canadians away from the polls in droves.
But it's important to remember why and how the Progressive Movement began more than a century ago, so I am looking to both sides of the border for inspiration. And a good example of a progressive thinker is President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican no less, back in the day when the Party had values.
Roosevelt was from an extremely wealthy family and had graduated from Harvard. Yet he was hardly what anyone would call an "elitist", though in today's political climate, I'm sure attack ads might suggest otherwise. But he was president at a time when the American people believed that the intelligent and well educated were the best choice to lead the county.
Teddy Roosevelt was the creator of the "Square Deal", feeling that all Americans were entitled to share in the best that the country had to offer (Oh, no. A Socialist!)
And his agenda was based on three fundamental ideas: the conservation of natural resources, taking control of corporations, and enacting consumer protection. And to do this he sought the help of middle class citizens, to break down the plutocracy.
The neoconservative movement instead has sought the assistance of the most vulnerable citizens, convincing them that they have their best interests at heart.
We need to follow Roosevelt's lead and tap into the middle for direction. In Canada, for the 50 years or so when policy was drafted to benefit the average citizen, those citizens forced things to the table that were to the betterment of everyone. And as a result, the middle class swelled, thanks to things like universal healthcare, labour unions and public education.
Now our middle class are becoming the working poor, and the Corporate Party is poised to destroy both healthcare and education, in favour of profits for what they call the "private sector", which is code for multi-national corporations.
And the only ones benefiting from Harper policy, are our wealthiest citizens, who instead of paying their share, demand that they contribute less and less to the health of our nation.
Murray Dobbin has an excellent piece in the Tyee this week: The CEO and the New Feudalism, where he reveals that income disparity is now so out of control, that the average CEO earns the same amount as the average worker, by 2:30 pm on January 3.
It is the modern equivalent of the power and arrogance of the robber barons of the 1920s. The CEOs' virtual control of the public policy process, which allows for this obscene level of inequality, delivers another message: democracy, whose essence is equality, will not be allowed to mess with the natural order of things.And yet Harper is planning a tax payer funded tour, to convince Canadians that we should create more inequality, by giving the wealthy even more of our money. Where does it end?
But you know, we can complain about Stephen Harper. We can complain about prison expansion at a time when our crime rate is at it's lowest. And we can complain about the loss of our media. But the real question is, what are we going to do about it?
"Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought ..." - Theodore Roosevelt