David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

Left Wing Walking with Swagger – For Now at Least

Brandon Sun, February 29, 2016 - David McConkey

Why do those of us on the political left walk now with an extra swagger? Well, look at what’s happening! There was the defeat of Harper. The global accord on climate change. And the re-making of the political order in the U.S.
Of course, the terms “left wing” and “right wing” are inadequate, even obsolete. As I have noted in previous columns, I am an eclectic elector. I’ve voted Conservative, Green, Liberal, and NDP. I say: Have some political fun! Vote for several different parties – just not at the same time! I happily describe myself as a “left old libertarian.” (I call it LOL!)

A year ago, things did not look good. Canada was being remade in Harper’s bitter, anti-intellectual image. Another Harper victory was possible. The climate change issue seemed stalled. In the U.S., the Koch brothers and other plutocrats were assembling a billion dollars to support the election of a right-wing candidate for president.

Then: everything changed! It started when Donald Trump – and Bernie Sanders – burst onto the U.S. political stage. They transformed the game. (And this will continue even if neither wins their party’s nomination for president.) 

As a left-wing libertarian, I really like two things about Trump. First, he is derailing the Republican party. This extreme party is despicable. It favours reckless wars, torture, the prison-industrial complex, an anti-choice agenda, the reversal of gay rights, and the dismissal of science. 

Second, Trump is calling out the corrupting influence of special interests. Who better to attack corruption in U.S. politics than a billionaire insider who himself gave loads of money to many politicians!

There is something deliciously ironic in the similarity between Trump and Sanders. They both appeal to a radical – yet substantial – element within their own parties. But Trump acts like an unhinged immature buffoon; Sanders like a kindly old professor. I gladly will take the left-wing kind of “crazy”!
Otherwise, Trump and Sanders are a study in generational contrast. Trump channels the frustrations of angry baby boomers and older folks. Sanders speaks to the aspirations of young millennials.   

And Sanders is pulling the Democratic party – and its likely nominee, Hillary Clinton – leftward. The U.S. left became so discouraged over the past few decades that they could not even utter the word “liberal.” But Sanders dares to say “socialist”! So Clinton calls herself a “progressive.” We’ll take it!
Back in Canada, there was the defeat of Harper. And this was not just a routine change in government, but a complete repudiation of the Conservative decade. Rather than making Canada more reactionary, Harper unleashed a hunger for liberalism in the country. The Liberals are ushering in a new era of openness, science and activism. They are even getting ready to smoke marijuana!
The Liberals are a breath of fresh air. (Or perhaps a breath of pot-filled air!) But let’s not forget – as I wrote here during the election – we still have a long way to go. There are many “politically incorrect” issues that all parties avoid.
That’s another gift from Trump: he will say anything! So a bonus from Trump’s campaign is that more people everywhere will speak their minds. Hopefully with more thoughtful ideas than Trump!

For the future, we need to move beyond right and left. For example, sometimes how about a libertarian perspective? Take the War on Drugs. Please! The right and the left both conspired to wage this futile and destructive war. Instead, try a libertarian approach: less government; more personal freedom.
The challenge of the future will be creating a global civil society with new human rights, science and technology. This complex challenge will eclipse the simplicity of both right and left. Climate change is an example. It should never have become bogged down in right-wing / left-wing politics. Both sides – along with special interests and environmentalists – share a lot of blame for framing this so badly.
In the future, the political questions facing citizens will be more complicated and revolve more around science. Political parties that belittle science, statistics and success – like the Harper Conservatives – will be even more out of place than they are today.
But right now: stay tuned. Especially in U.S. politics, things are about to get really interesting!

And just who will be swaggering tomorrow?

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See also: 

This Changes Everything

Retired Brandon Judge Speaks Out

Politically Incorrect Issues This Election

Citizen Active



David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
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The War on Drugs:
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Extraordinary Canadians:
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The Greatest Show on Earth:
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