American Republicans mostly hitched their wagons to Donald Trump’s dark star in this year’s U.S. mid-term elections, and notwithstanding passage of control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats it has worked remarkably well for them.
If you imagine this lesson is lost on Canadian movement conservatives, think again.
The politics of Trumpism were already here in Canada, of course. Fear, hatred and division – not to mention fake news, climate change denial, sexual hysteria and active voter suppression – have already been tried in Canada, and have already proved effective. I give you … Doug Ford.
Thank God we still have paper ballots and federal elections administered nationally by a federal agency, but don’t expect that to be enough to keep Canadian Conservatives from being seduced by the allure of Trumpism, at least as long as it appears to be working somewhere.
Not so long ago, as a reporter for the New York Times observed last night, the post-mortem consensus of the Republican Party after Barack Obama’s defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 U.S. presidential election “was brutally straightforward: Expand the tent or risk extinction.”
Here in Alberta in the same approximate time frame, as the still-progressive Conservative Party transitioned from the neoliberal shock doctrine of Ralph Klein through the more moderate Ed Stelmach years to the apparently progressive Alison Redford era, the Conservative consensus was much the same.
Trumpism is the norm among conservatives on both sides of the Medicine Line. All the more so thanks to over-represented rural ridings in Canada and low-population rural Red States south of the 49th, where the first-past-the-post mechanisms of the Electoral College and the anti-democratic design of the U.S. Senate bias national election results toward the right.
So say hello to more like Devin Dreeshen – the Alberta United Conservative Party’s new MLA for Innisfail-Trump Tower.
Mr. Romney, by the way, appears to be back – this time as Senator for the State of Utah. And, who knows, maybe in office he will prove to be one of those rare moderate Republicans, the theocratic leanings of the state he represents notwithstanding.
As for control of the House by the Democrats, that’s good news, but perhaps less so than Canadian progressives may hope. The U.S. Democrats under their current leadership are yet to prove that they can organize a booze-up in a brewery, and a surprising number of their elected candidates aren’t much more than Republicans with blue neckties.
What’s more, partisan warfare with the Democrats may well suit Mr. Trump.
Still, you have to admit this is a more hopeful outcome than the alternative of the executive, the judiciary and both parts of the legislative branch of the U.S. Government in the hands of the Trump kleptocracy.
Meanwhile, in Alberta politics, yesterday was a Luff a minute
Meanwhile back in Alberta, it was a Luff a minute in the political news.
Calgary-East MLA Robyn Luff, kicked out of the NDP Caucus the night before for what was inevitably interpreted as flinging a spanner into the party works in the lead–up to an important election, expressed her shock and dismay at that entirely predictable outcome in a rambling Facebook post.
In it, Ms. Luff responded to her former party’s decision, which is surely the one any Canadian party leader regardless of location on the political spectrum would have made, by essentially throwing everything but the kitchen sink back at Premier Rachel Notley. She also vowed to continue her irresponsible protest boycott of the Legislature.
Among Ms. Luff’s accusations – far too entertaining to be ignored by mainstream media, especially the United Conservative Party auxiliary at Postmedia – was the entirely believable claim Alberta NDP Caucus members had been asked not to appear in photographs with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
Are we seriously expected to be shocked at this, given Mr. Singh’s recent position on issues at variance with Ms. Notley’s policies, or the tendency of the UCP troll farm to spin such pictures into damning and memorable memes?
Ms. Luff also complained of the NDP’s treatment of her private member’s bill, which proposed changes that she intended to increase renters’ rights. Unsurprisingly, with a full legislative agenda and an election looming, party leaders were not enthusiastic. Ms. Luff, who is an honourable person and a genuine progressive, was said to be extremely unhappy.
Of course, if we had a nickel for every MP and MLA displeased with the treatment of their private member’s bill, we could probably pay down the deficit!
That said, Alberta seems to be the home of over-the-top responses to this garden-variety Parliamentary complaint.
Who can forget Edmonton-St. Albert Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber resigning from prime minister Stephen Harper’s caucus in 2013 after melting down when his fellow Conservatives pushed changes to his private member’s bill, which would have required public disclosure of any public employee’s salary above $188,000?
Mr. Rathgeber is now back chasing St. Albert ambulances as a lawyer, with a sideline advising Edmonton city councillors on ethical issues.
Sad to say, human nature being what it is, this tactic is seldom likely to solve an unhappy office-holder’s grievances.
Realistically, the breach between Ms. Luff and the NDP is now permanent, and complete. Ms. Luff will soon return to her teaching career, as she is said to have contemplated well before this blow-up.
Ms. Luff and U.S. President Donald Trump don’t have a lot in common, obviously, but there is this: Each in their own way, regardless of your political ideology or economic beliefs, is proof of the wisdom of sticking with professional politicians when picking candidates for public office.
Advice on photography for bloggers and politicians
My advice to political bloggers is always to take a snapshot of a politician when you have the opportunity. This is because, usually, they’ll be reluctant to send you one when they get in trouble. Unless, that is, they get into trouble for sending you one, which is another matter entirely.
In such a case my advice would be not to publish it online, if you know what I mean.
This is the only thing I am going to say now about the Hon. Tony Peter Clement, former comer in Conservative political circles. Hitherto, Mr. Clement was best known for his gazebos.
My advice to politicians like Mr. Clement, who until last night was the shadow minister of justice on federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer’s front bench, is if you feel the urge to email someone a picture, ask if you can use one a blogger took of you.
They may not always be flattering, or even entirely in focus, but you can usually be confident they’ll not get you in trouble!