Sunday, February 14, 2016

On permanent campaigns

Luke Savage is right to point out that Canada's permanent campaign has merely taken on a different dynamic under the Trudeau Libs, rather than actually coming to an end with the Harper Cons losing power:
Again, branding is the key here.

As a part of its Sunny Ways™, the government has displayed a visible fondness for the affirmation of process. It is “pro-trade” and appears to be pro-TPP, but it will “broadly consult”; it is pro-electoral reform but non-specific about what that reform will be (consultation first); it was elected around a very specific and widely trumpeted set of economic proposals, but it has yet to put these into a budget or even schedule one because it has to consult first.
The political dexterity this approach affords the Liberals is staggering, as these past 100 days have already demonstrated. Justin Trudeau and his party espouse no ideology, and contend to embody the political preferences of all. It is an approach to politics which, to quote Peter C. Newman, promises “as little as possible but as much as necessary”.

The campaign never ends.
That said, it's worth noting what that means for the NDP and progressive activists.

It's all too true that the Libs seem inclined to govern as nothing but Cons with smiles on their faces - and Justin Trudeau has wasted little time in showing us the results.

But the scope of what's seen as "possible" and "necessary" is different for a party which has relied largely on progressive voters to win power than for one whose pitch for support is aimed solely at the right wing of the political spectrum. And so at this point in Trudeau's stay in power, the most important role for those of us whose distrust of the Libs has been borne out in practice is to ensure that they have no viable political choice but to live up to their promises and avoid introducing new regressive choices into the mix - rather than simply waiting to see what happens, and hoping to challenge their credibility later.

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