Let’s face it, we’re all bitter.
When Justin Trudeau pirouetted onto the national stage as a candidate to revive the drowning , bloated near-corpse of the Liberal Party, we collectively scoffed.
The drama teacher with a silver spoon in his mouth?
Every step of the way, there’s always been something. He’s light on policy. He changes his position too much. His hair is too curly.
But a new poll of Canadians shows that we, the snarky pundit class, have to rethink the situation.
This poll could mean a variety of things. It could mean we’re wrong, and the public sees a credible leader in Trudeau. Or, perhaps, the Canadian public is a coalition of gullible lobotomy patients who gravitate towards the highest cheekbones.
The most credible answer I can offer, is that Canadians aren’t looking for a Prime Minister.
They’re looking for a leader.
Now, that may sound like some meaningless wordvomit coughed up by an overeager Trudeau communication staffer, into the mouths of his veritable army of eerily committed volunteers, but it may actually be true.
A Forum poll released today in the National Post appears to show that, as Trudeau’s coronation seems increasingly inevitable, more and more voters are gravitating towards the curly-haired wonder.
Consider the following: in that Forum poll, the approval ratings for Harper, Mulcair and Rae were virtually the same (33%, 38%, 34%, respectively.)
Rae, a veteran statesman who just months ago was consider the shining beacon of straight talk and earnestness in the House. Now at a paltry 34%. Trusted by only 1% more Canadians that the Great Canadian Dictator.
And then there’s Mulcair, only a hair more popular the the other career politicians. For a man inheriting the mantle of a dead Canadian icon beloved by all (the last poll taken before Jack’s death gave him an approval rating of 57%, compared to 20% for Rae.) If you’ve squandered the general love and goodwill that Canadians felt for Jack in such a short time, there’s a serious problem.
The NDP have stopped being about hope. The NDP are now about calculated movements designed to usher them into office in 2015.
And make no mistake, few of them are actually afraid of the boy wonder Trudeau.
But maybe they should be.
Sure, Layton (it still feels weird to write his surname) came off, especially moreso towards the end of his tenure with the party, as a competent fiscal manager with a knack for politics.
But that was almost incidental. Or, perhaps, a formality that he finally accomplished.
Layton did so well because he offered an affable, caring face that Canadians not only wanted to shotgun a beer with, but genuinely believed could make Canada the country they imagined it as.
But, in the face of economic turmoil (something something storm clouds something something Canada is not an island) they stuck with Harper. An understandable choice. Next time, Jack.
But Jack died. And Mulcair has molded himself into another Harper. And if Mulcair can make the argument in 2015 that Canada is still in a precarious fiscal state, and another fiscal manager is required to balance the books, maybe they’ll choose him.
It’s a bunch of lawyers and career politicians falling over each other, trying to drown each other out via chest-thump, all in effort to exert supremacy on economic issues they know virtually nothing about.
But Canada is rubbing its collective temple with its index finger. Canada is sick of this shit.
Parliament is a bafflegab of disjointed talking points read by forgettable rubes to ministers that take sick glee in mocking Parliament. And that’s just the government. The opposition, Trudeau included, is a barely functioning conduit for breathtaking hypocrisy that prioritizes political point-scoring over demonstrable achievements, then has the gall to critique the government for daring do the same.
Nevermind the reams of indicators that suggests that our parliament is a dystopian wasteland of unimaginable incompetence, buffoonery, graft, and — in some cases — crime.
Canadians don’t want Mulcair to step out from behind the curtain and mumble a hastily-drafted policy point on how to fix parliament by means of a democratic nip and tuck. They want a voice that speaks with conviction on the issue, a voice that you can actually trusts wants to take action, and hasn’t been told by his advisors to do so.
Let’s be very clear, Justin “Shithead!” Trudeau is not that person. That person doesn’t exist. But if Trudeau can play that part, it’s damn well nearly as good.
Yes, Trudeau’s campaign has some tenets that make me uncomfortable. He’s skirting any meaningful policy discussion, taking unbecoming political-motivated positions on hot-button issues to endear the Western voter base he needs to lock up, and his vision forward is so oily and slippery that a Newfoundland cod fisherman couldn’t grasp it with a pair of sandpaper gloves.
But, on the other hand, he draws massive crowds, pulls in untold numbers of volunteers, offers his website as a trading posting of ideas on democratic reform.
Perhaps the Instagram’d photos from Trudeau’s events exaggerate attendance. Maybe the perception of his plethora of volunteers is merely good social media making his team look bigger than it actually is. And it’s possible his website is nothing but an astroturf impression of public participation that serves as little more than a false sense of engagement.
Maybe it’s all just an illusion. Maybe Trudeau’s campaign is a fortress of $100 bills constructed inside a warehouse in Toronto, and his four staff are throwing wads of $20s at each other in a never-ending moneyball fight. Maybe Trudeau is, deep down inside, no more a vehicle for hope and change than Harper.
But what’s so bad about that? What’s wrong with pulling this flaming Bombardier jet up from its nosedive?
An illusion is something we can all believe in. If Trudeau can keep it up,. he might just usher in a new area of public engagement, political literacy and investment in the political process. This isn’t a bait and switch. It’s not a trick.
Or, as Gob Bluth from Arrested Development puts it so succinctly,
“Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.”