Winston Churchill famously said the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter and his observation is no less true of Canadian voters today than it was of British voters back then. How else can you explain the enduring popularity of Justin Trudeau without concluding the average Canadian voter is too politically ignorant to vote and should be forced to pass a test before they are allowed to exercise their franchise. But listening to the pundits you’d be led to believe Canadian voters are a well informed and politically engaged electorate but they’re giving them too much credit. They need to hype up Canadians’ political intellect because they need to be convinced Canadians believe the same things they do to justify their mistaken perception of themselves as the voice of the people. They want to believe Canadians turned on the Conservatives because they opposed the Niqab ban (they didn’t) and they rallied around the Liberals Syrian refugee resettlement scheme because it was the Canadian thing to do (not true either). The real reason why Canadians turned on the Conservatives is because they grew bored of them and wanted something new.
A review of the history of the popular vote in past elections reveals how unremarkable the Liberal victory was. With just 39.5% of the popular vote it seems pathetic compared to the Progressive Conservatives 50.03% of the popular vote back in 1984 and 43.02% of the popular vote in 1988. And this was when the deservedly hated Brian Mulroney was party leader. Indeed, the Liberal’s 39.5% support is slightly poorer compared to the 39.6% Stephen Harper’s Conservatives got in the previous election when the party secured a majority. And despite the constant muck thrown at Stephen Harper and his Conservatives by our allegedly objective press in the run up to the election they still walked away with 31.9% of the popular vote. They were defeated but hardly crushed.
Reading the press you’d think the Liberals destroyed their opposition but they didn’t. Such is the nature of our first-past-the-post system. You can win a riding and form the government with the majority of voters voting against you. It’s not a perfect system but a truly perfect democratic system doesn’t exist. That didn’t stop the Liberals from trying to give us one even though their effort was a masked attempt to gerrymander the next election and all elections after that.
So why did the Liberals win? Part of it has to do with the stupefying popularity of their vacuous party leader most of it fabricated by a media shamelessly acting as Trudeau’s press agents and not the adversarial fourth estate they pretend to be. That an obvious nitwit like Justin Trudeau can ascend to the highest office of an advanced industrialized nation speaks not only of the power of pedigree but says a lot about the influence of media bias on the people of the nation that put him there. These are the same people who detest Stephen Harper but can’t exactly tell you why.
Equally so they can’t tell you why they voted for the Liberals, or NDP for that matter, without condemning the Conservatives because they didn’t know where the Liberals stood on anything because the Liberals didn’t tell you where they stood on anything beyond climate change, diversity, and gender equality, the holy trinity of fashionable social justice causes guaranteed to get you good press. Oh and legalized pot. And middle class tax cuts that really aren’t. It was just a carryover from Trudeau’s bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada where he was just as vague and noncommittal about everything outside of climate change, diversity, and gender equality. Oh, and pot. You can’t forget about the pot.
Ennui and not anger is why the Conservatives lost. The Conservatives had become familiar and boring breeding irrational contempt in a populace whose personal lives had become equally familiar and boring compounded by increasing insecurity and a sense of powerlessness to do anything about it. Elections are great in that they not only fool people into thinking that they can change their lives, that they can overcome that sense of powerlessness, through the mere act of voting but a change of government provides the fleeting novelty their indebted, precarious, stagnant lives are looking for.
The “hopey, changey” fluff of the Obama campaign is exemplary in this regard. Not only did Obama provide the illusion of giving power to the powerless he provided the novelty of voting for America’s first black President. But “hope” and “change” was just “marketing pabulum” to avoid discussing important issues. And given Justin Trudeau’s knack for sounding stupid when he thinks he’s talking smart the borrowing of pages from the Democrats’ campaign playbook was a sensible move, choosing to concentrate on image more so than merit for in Justin’s case, as so for Obama, there is plenty of the former, not much of the latter.
The Liberals will win the next election. I don’t see how they can lose but a third term is pushing it. I’m hoping by then Canadian’s would have grown tired of Justin Trudeau’s “Look at me!” antics and yearn for a real statesman, not some jet-setting wannabe world celebrity with a messiah complex who cashed in on his politically famous last name and sought the highest office in this country because he lacked both the talent and the intellect to achieve international fame any other way. I doubt very much the Liberals will do anything in power to effect positive change in the lives of Canadians (governments rarely do) but as long as they can be duped by the “hope” and “change” superficiality that is Trudeau the Lesser the longer he will remain “popular” and the Liberals in power.