KINSELLA: Costly Extremism in Politics – North and South of the Border

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BOSTON — Every U.S. president loses midterm. It’s a truism here, going back decades.

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Mid-term, every president, whether Democrat or Republican, sees their party lose representation in the Senate and House of Representatives and at the state level. Still.

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So Joe Biden was heading for a hammering of biblical proportions at the midpoint of this year. So say the polls, and so says the conventional wisdom. Biden was going to see his Democrats beat down — because of runaway inflation, because of the price of a gallon of gas, because of the failure to adopt a coherent domestic policy.

The fact of Biden’s Democrats’ midterm defeat was undisputed. It was just a matter of size.

Well, that was then, and this is now.

Not only does it now look like Joe Biden will survive the midterm elections. Now it looks like his party will win out over the Republicans. And this is not only extraordinary, it is a lesson in caution for Canadian conservatives.

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This week, a primary in New York, which has always been a high point for national voting intentions, saw a Democrat beat a well-funded and well-organized Republican. How did the Democrats do it? They hammered the GOP, again and again, on abortion rights and threats to American democracy.

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When the United States Supreme Court gutted women’s reproductive rights by overturning Roe v. Wade, Republicans have been compared to the dog that finally grabbed the car: they didn’t know what to do with it. Democrats have taken advantage of this disarray, across the country. They put the right to abortion on the ballots.

An NBC News poll, released just days ago, found the number one issue for registered American voters was democracy itself. The January 6 attack on the United States Capitol — along with Donald Trump’s manipulation of the rules to win the 2020 presidential election and GOP deniers taking part in races across the United States — shook Americans and also put democracy protection on the ballot. .

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Influential political analysts FiveThirtyEight sum up what it all means: “In your typical midterm election with an unpopular Democratic president, you would expect Republicans to fly high. But evidence is mounting that the national political environment at the moment is actually leaning towards Democrats.”

FiveThirtyEight put the word « Democrats » in italics, to show how important it is. Because it is.


If they were smart — and the evidence strongly suggests they aren’t — the Republicans’ Canadian cousins, the Conservatives, should be paying close attention to what’s happening in the South. Right now, Canada’s mainstream conservatives may be too busy comparing vaccination to Nazism – or posing for pictures with real Nazi fans, and then, when they learn of the perspective of those Nazi fans, Nazism, not to condemn them.

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In Canada, too many conservatives believe that if they hate Justin Trudeau, so do all Canadian voters. In Canada, too many conservatives believe that Trudeau could not win against their elected official, Pierre Poilievre.

In particular, in Canada, too many conservative leadership candidates, federal and provincial, believe they can get away with attacking reproductive rights (Leslyn Lewis, who wants to ban abortion) or democratic rules ( Danielle Smith, who wants to eviscerate the constitution), or democratic fairness (Poilievre’s henchmen, who removed Patrick Brown from the closed-door leadership ballot, then refused to make it clear why).

They think they can do all of this, and Canadians won’t notice.

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Well, here in the United States of America, voters have noticed that stuff. They’ve taken note of what hardline conservatives in the Republican Party are doing to reproductive rights and Democratic rights, and they’re gearing up to teach Republicans a valuable political lesson. Namely, extremism is going to cost you, boys.

It’s the same thing in Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada currently bears no resemblance to the Conservative parties of Robert Stanfield or Joe Clark or Brian Mulroney or Kim Campbell or Jean Charest. Instead, it looks like Stockwell Day would have made it. It sounds like what Stephen Harper wanted, in the last days of his regime, when he bizarrely raged against minorities who have « barbaric practices ».

In politics, despite all the polls and the big bucks and the supposedly smart strategists, what seems like a sure thing often isn’t. What seems certain is often not.

Too many Canadian conservatives have absolutely convinced themselves that Pierre Poilievre will defeat Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

They should talk to their Republican cousins ​​here. Many Republicans convinced themselves that Joe Biden was also grilled mid-term.

They don’t think that anymore.

– Kinsella was Jean Chrétien’s special assistant and volunteer for the Democratic Party

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