Monday, August 24, 2015

How Bernie Sanders and Justin Trudeau Have Changed the Election Narrative

Recently, one of my favourite journalists, Rick Salutin, weighed in on Justin Trudeau's comment, that the Liberals wanted to grow the economy "from the heart outwards", meaning from the centre or middle class.

The media and opposition parties went crazy, calling him a Care Bear, not comprehending the meaning of his words.  Everyone is looking for that sound bite, to make them look clever, when in fact, it ended up making them look foolish.

Salutin, on the other hand, did know what Justin was talking about, but preferred that it be the misinterpretation.  

Why not economics from the heart instead of from the head?  We've been led to believe that balanced budgets are the Holy Grail, and that the  "Economy" is  a beast we must feed or risk extinction.

Canada has become the Fisher King;  the legendary figure from the days of King Arthur. Wounded in battle, he could no longer perform his duty to protect the coveted chalice, nor could he produce an heir to continue the obligation.  As a result his kingdom was reduced to a barren wasteland, while the king amused himself fishing, and waiting for rescue.

The mythical Holy Grail has become a symbol for things most cherished and desired, but unfortunately, we no longer know what those things are.  Salutin discusses the economic crash of 2008, that should have taught us that the current system wasn't working.   Yet things continued as before, with misguided tax cuts and mean spirited austerity measures.  This election is probably the most important of a generation.  We can vote for the status quo, or not vote at all, ensuring the status quo.  Neither is an option.

Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination, in the run up to the presidential election, in 2016. He has become a phenomenon, primarily because he is not campaigning on lowering taxes or fighting deficits, but on the things that should matter to most Americans.  And they are listening.

A liveable minimum wage, better working conditions, an end to war; to name a few.  These things have not been mentioned in election campaigns for a very long time.  This has forced the other candidates, vying for the job, to address the same issues, or at least promote progressive ideas.

He has changed the narrative, which has changed the issues.

Our media and politicos are too focused on Justin Trudeau's hair, and his famous father, to listen to what he is saying. Like Sanders, he is discussing better working conditions, better wages, and benefits for veterans, seniors and children.  A sensible environmental plan, and an improved relationship with provinces, so that everyone has shared goals, and can better reach them.

Stephen Harper is focused on his dubious leadership skills, while scaring us into submission, over the threat of a terrorist attack.  The NDP is hoping the fact that they voted against C-51 and the Liberals didn't, despite neither vote having an impact; will carry them through for the next two months.  It won't.

Most of their policies are the same old tired promises.  More fluff than substance.  A $15.00 an hour minimum wage, to create a group of "federal employees" who can be unionised;  only gave false hope; and a daycare plan that won't be implemented in this cycle or the next.

In fact, many children needing daycare today, won't; when the first phase of their plan is rolled out, so it is not an election issue, only some vague notion, made during what Salutin calls "an intellectually threadbare era"..

We need to slay the bastard named "Economy" and create our own goals. As the thoughtful journalist says:
This kind of paradigm shift in economics — I’m calling it, after Trudeau, the economics of the heart — is probably more crucial now than it was in the heyday of what was called socialism. Then the stakes were merely misery for the masses. Now the survival of the species is at risk due to climate change and the current model doesn’t — and can’t — even take that into account. When the environment kacks out, it’s an “externality.” You carry on modelling, oblivious. It really doesn’t matter what you call it but “heart economics” sounds good to me.
Investing in Canadians is the best way to grow financially.  We can't just sit around waiting to be rescued, while our country is being reduced to a barren wasteland, and our people to a life of nothing but debt and meagre opportunities.

Sanders and Trudeau have something lacking in politicians today.  Genuine compassion and the ability to inspire.  

It's risky in today's political climate and with the state of our media, to have dreams of a better country, but Sanders and Trudeau have them anyway.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ―  Paulo Coelho


  1. Bernie Sanders to wonderful and I hope he becomes President, but to compare him to Justin Trudeau is horrible and insulting, Bernie Sanders is the opposite of Trudeau, substance over style, good policies instead of bad, real change over a coat of paint over rotten wood.

    Mulcair is more like Bernie Sanders, both experienced and capable administers, both are substance over style, both have good policies that will change they're countries for the better, both have reputations for honesty.

    The future of the Anglosphere (and Quebec), is Mulcair, Sanders, and Corbyn in the UK (hopefully someone wonderful pops up in both Australia and New Zealand).

    1. Mulcair is a neoliberal and always has been, more in tune to the policies of Margaret Thatcher. You need to read his debates in the National Assembly when he was in the Neoliberal government of Jean Charest.

      He compared pipelines to churches, quoted Ronald Reagan and angered environmentalists so much that they were constantly calling for his resignation.

      He tried to privatize everything, even water, and it was his idea to sell a portion of Mont Orford Park, though he lied about it later.

      He is no Bernie Sanders. He is a fraud.

  2. It seems a little strange to me to compare Trudeau (who leads a party that instituted many of the Neo-Liberal policies that guide Harper's government) to Bernie Sanders who is a professed socialist. Sanders talks about a fundamental shift in our economic paradigm away from capitalism and toward socialism, Trudeau isn't even reading from the same book, let alone the same page, and the comparison is, therefore, either a wild misrepresentation or a very deep misunderstanding. I volunteered back in the 80s for the so-called "Sandernistas" when Sanders was campaigning to become a member of the House of Representatives. He is considerably left of where the NDP was thirty years ago, let alone where Trudeau is today. And, though I am by no means convinced to vote NDP in this election, your almost embarrassing partisan hero worship of Trudeau, as eloquent as it is, certainly does nothing to convince me to vote for the Liberals. And it simply won't do to attack the NDP childcare program (one that is essentially and old Liberal plan) as unworkable or unrealistic.

    Here's an idea - how about you put the hero worship aside for a brief moment, and you actually outline the policies that make Trudeau worth voting for over the NDP.

    1. You are stuck in the past. Trudeau represents the new Liberals, or perhaps more accurately, the old Liberals. The ones who gave us the Canada Heath Act, CPP, EI, Old Age Security, the list goes on.

      We can't live in the past, but have to look to the future. Mulcair is not a social democrat. Never was, never will be.

  3. Please check out The Economics of Happiness (hopefully purchased through a locally-own bookseller). A fresh perspective by a Canadian economist published in Canada … despite the US spelling ARGH!

    1. Thank you. I will. I buy local whenever possible.

  4. Fine column, Emily; hope it encourages readers to look past the attack ads and see how Trudeau is focussed on preparing Canada for the 21st century.