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There's Always Room For Improvement

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

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Written by Kyle Lambert

I don’t need to tell anyone that the world in which we live isn’t perfect. If you watch the news, read the paper or even walk downtown for five minutes, you’ll know that there are numerous problems with the societies which we inhabit. We live in a world where oil money gets rather unintelligent folks elected and mayors take power because they promise us water to wash our cars and a cheap shirts at Wal-Mart. But that doesn’t mean we should act as though all is lost.

The world as it stands is run by the likes of Bush, Martin and Blair, three reasons to keep fighting for change, not three reasons to give up. Yet the attitude of many these days, seems to be one of defeat, as though there is no hope to ever improve our own conditions. All I’m hearing after the recent Public Works scandal are people outraged at government, not at the current government or ruling party, but at government as a whole. What needs to be understood is that ridding yourself of politics altogether is not going to fix the problem, it only allows those who create the scandals a carte-blanche to continue with their corrupt ways. Paul Martin and his Liberal party cronies would like nothing more than to have a completely complacent Canadian voting population at election time. That way, they are most likely to be once again re-elected, a principle which the Liberals have thrived on throughout the Chretien era. The only way to stop this from happening is for all those opposed to the current government to fight even harder for the changes that this country so desperately needs.

The condition is even worse for our neighbours to the South. John Kerry, the soon-to-be Democrat leader, has been anointed saviour of liberalism and slayer of the Bush dragon. However, his popularity is based solely on the fact that he isn’t Bush. Progressives in the U.S. are backing the man because of his perceived “electability”, not because they truly believe in his principles. So, despite Kerry’s support for NAFTA and the Iraq war, he has much support simply because many Americans are so desperate to beat George W. Bush in the next election. This same sort of thing happened in 1992, and they ended up with Bill Clinton for 8 years, a man described by Michael Moore as the “best Republican President (we’ve) ever had”. While I agree that finding a man who can defeat Bush is essential, there is a great risk that progressive Americans would be selling themselves short, taking a small step now instead of a big leap later.

I’m quite sure that as a Canadian I cannot fully understand the battle with which American opponents to Bush are currently facing, thus I empathize with the need to replace Bush at all costs. However the risk remains present. If Kerry becomes President Americans can rejoice that Bush is gone, yet having a Republican-lite president opens the door to another Bush once Kerry is finished. It’s almost as though Bush opponents are unwittingly participating in a vicious circle pattern of politics. A big business-friendly Democrat is elected, then, an even friendlier Republican is elected. Wash, rinse, repeat. The same seems to happen in Canada where we alternate between centre-right and right-centre Liberals, the national election being less significant than the Liberal leadership race.

Personally, I think its time we stopped selling ourselves short. Tommy Douglas referred to this same problem as the “Mouseland” scenario, where the mice kept electing different coloured cats to run their world, instead of electing mice as they should have done. We need to collectively confront the sell-out politicians who falsely act as though they have the public good at heart. Jack Layton and his NDP media machine are doing a very good job of confronting Paul Martin as a conservative blue-blood in a red coat. Such efforts must be multiplied at all levels. Even though defeating the money and power behind the Bushs and Martins of the world may seem like an exercise in futility, every small step does matter. Karen Farbridge was an excellent Mayor of Guelph, and she rightly promoted her own record as leader in her re-election campaign. Unfortunately not enough about Kate Quarrie’s record was attacked. Farbridge needed to tell the people of Guelph that they deserved better than a land developer puppet like Quarrie. It is time that progressive thinkers, believers and politicians started demonstrating that improvement is possible and the only way to achieve it is through change. Lula and Kirshner have done it in South America so it is possible, now its North America’s turn to really strive for improvement and lose the defeatist attitudes that have hurt us for far too long.


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