Musings —06.26.2017 02:42 PM—
Justin Trudeau is going to win the next federal election.
Now, we know, we know. The election is far away. He’s broken some promises. His legislative achievements are modest. The Tories and the Dippers are getting shiny new leaders. Commenters are commenting that he’s slipping. And, in the post-Trump/Brexit era, the “sunny ways” stuff seems as culturally relevant as, say, Kardsahian reruns.
But he’s still going to win. And it’s not just because Andrew Scheer is Stock Day redux with a perma-smirk – or because Scheer’s most-influential advisor helped found the alt-Right hate site, The Rebel, whose most-recent oeuvre includes an essay titled “Ten Things I Hate About Jews.”
Nor is it because the NDP leadership candidate this space invented, Jagmeet Singh, has turned out to be a bit of a letdown, uncertain on his feet in debate, and inspiring few – or because the incorrigible rageaholic Tom Mulcair is still around, chewing up headlines and scenery, and reminding everyone why they abandoned the NDP in the Fall of 2015.
No, Justin Trudeau is going to win because of him. Also, in spite of him.
As part of my ongoing effort to make Conservative and New Democratic heads explode, and because I love Top Ten lists, herewith and hereupon are The Top Ten Reasons Trudeau Is Going To Win Again, You’re Welcome.
- He’s doing the right things. Spending more on daycare, for example, but also on defence. Trudeau has had the right instincts on the policy front. To the ongoing irritation of his Opposition, he’s not bad at nudging Right, shimmying Left, and then ending up in the Centre – which is where most Canadians generally are, too. Triangulation isn’t a new strategy, but it’s an effective one. Trudeau is good at it.
- He’s not doing the wrong things. Re-opening the Constitution, for instance: he’s not doing that. With the Trump regime busily tearing up vital trade treaties – with Agent Orange pulling out the Paris Accord, the agreement that could prevent the extinction of all species – what does Quebec’s Premier want to do? Why, he wants to kick start divisive, corrosive negotiations about the Constitution, naturally. The politically-tone-deaf NDP promptly agreed with him, but Trudeau sure didn’t. The Liberal leader immediately slammed the door on that policy Vietnam, thereby earning the gratitude of the mutlitude.
- Staying out of the papers. That’s what Messrs. Chretien and Harper did, and they both knew a thing or two about political survival. Trudeau’s figured out that overexposure leads inevitably tounderwhelming election results. So he’s being seen and heard a lot less. Canadians, like most voters everywhere, believe politics is improved by silence. Trudeau, at long last, is doing more by being seen less.
- Cooling it with the selfie stuff. Praise the Lord! Yes, he’s a rather good-looking fellow. Yes, he has a boyish grin and an impressive mane. Yes, his family looks like it stepped out of a J. Crew catalogue. Yes, he makes Donald Trump recall Jabba the Hutt on a bad day. But Trudeau has evidently surmised that the endless stream of selfies suggested to Canadians – even Liberal Canadians – that he was a bit egotistical and a bit shallow. So he’s doing it a lot less. We’ve all noticed. We’re all grateful.
- Opposing Trump’s manifest destiny. At the start of Trump’s corrupt, chaotic reign, Trudeau and Team too often resembled latter-day Neville Chamberlains, labouring to if not defend then deny the indefensible. They were proud progressives at home, condemning racism and bullies and Kellie Leitch. But when Stateside, they became ostrich-like, and didn’t condemn (much less critique) the Racist Bully-in-Chief – not once. What did all that cheek-turning get them? Well, Trump-led attacks on the Canadian softwood and dairy sectors, among other things. So, they changed course. They’ve mapped out a foreign policy that goes around Trump. This week, no less than the New York Timesnoticed and approved. About time.
- No scandals of significance – no real scandals, even. The Aga Khan Saga? Elbowgate? So-called cash for access? A boastful minister, and a couple underwhelming ones? No one South of the Queensway cares, folks. They just don’t. One solitary ministerial resignation, in the time it took Brian Mulroney to rack up a dozen: that’s it. For a caucus and cabinet so replete with rookies, Trudeau has experienced shockingly few big scandals. And, when contrasted with the slime oozing out of the White House, Trudeau continues to look positively angelic.
- No nasty fights with the provinces. At all. Sure, Brad Wall has been angry, a couple times, but such disputes typically work with Wall’s core vote – and, coincidentally, Trudeau’s. Sure, some provinces were briefly upset about health transfers – but they all had no choice but to sign on, and they all eventually did. Apart from Couillard’s short-lived constitutional gambit (see above), all is decidedly quiet on the provincial front. That’s what Trudeau promised, that’s what he’s delivered.
- He’s got luck to spare. Unlike just about every other centrist you can name – in the U.S., in Europe, at the sub-national level – Justin Trudeau wasn’t just born with a silver shovel in his mouth. He came into being with multiple horseshoes in his nether regions, too. All of the things that have felled his progressive contemporaries – a global populist surge, terror attacks, hackers and fake news, clumsy campaign strategies – haven’t hurt him one bit. For the most part, it’s because he’s the luckiest guy to ever run for office.
- He’s hard to hate. Tom Mulcair and assorted Tories try, certainly, but they usually just come off sounding bitter and/or jealous. Trudeau (unlike his Dad, unlike Stephen Harper) is the Lloyd Dobler of politics: like that immortal character in 1989’s Say Anything, Trudeau is the guy in high school who gets invited to every party, breaks up fights, and makes sure no one drives home drunk. He isn’t a straight-A student or the valedictorian, but that’s also why you don’t hate him.
- He’s likeable. Justin Trudeau is an anomaly. He grew up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but he personally embodies neither, somehow pulling off the middle-class artifice. For older voters who adored Trudeau Senior, he offers the occasional Trudeau-esque pirouette – but he avoids his father’s imperial inclinations. For younger voters, seeking an Obama-like outsider, Trudeau will do the unexpected and unconventional – but he still knows how to get the billionaires at Davos to do his bidding. And so on, and so on. In some ways, he is more of an enigma than his Dad: just when you think you know him, you don’t. Either way, as noted, what remains is a guy who is kind of impossible to hate.
In politics, all of that is a winning formulation. And it’s why Justin Trudeau – he alone – is going to win for Liberals again in 2019.
(Oh, and happy Canada Day, Trudeau. Something tells me you are going to have a good one.)