Musings —10.15.2012 08:24 AM—
Ironically, the lovely Bea’s story is behind a paywall. But the picture will entertain you. I look like a crazy street person, which, most days, I sort of am.
Highlights from Bea’s interview, with me fixing up some of the prose with punctuation (I do tend to speak fast, so it’s my fault, not Bea’s):
How have Conservatives “radically changed their approach to politics?”
“It’s by learning how to win elections better. Their achievement is considerable. … [Harper’s] doing it by communicating better than his opponents do. And he does that by speaking about values, the Tim Hortons and the hockey dad stuff. It may be phony, and it may be made-up, and it might come out of focus groups. But it works. … That’s one of the reasons why [progressives] are losing. The other thing he’s been assisted by, obviously, is that Liberals and New Democrats stupidly still refuse to acknowledge that they’re fighting over the same piece of political real estate. And so Harper just sails up the middle.”
You say the left needs to take back values and words. Which ones?
“Well, what I talk about in Fight the Right is this: the most powerful message – the most powerful words to come out of progressive politics in 100 years – is the one per cent versus the 99 per cent. When you consider what the Occupy [movement] kids did, [it’s amazing]. They didn’t have a Madison Avenue advertising budget behind them. They had no leader – you can’t even name a leader of the Occupy movement. They had no organization. They had no membership. They had no fundraising. [Despite that,] they changed progressive politics. Or, they had the potential to do so, with this one per cent versus 99 per cent. That IS the message.”
“That is why Obama was ahead of Romney – because he was saying, ‘He’s part of the one per cent and I’m with you guys, I’m with the 99 per cent.’ Then he stopped doing that, and he starts losing. … It may be the reason that Obama may lose. And it’s certainly why we [Liberals] might lose.
You say the media are mostly right-leaning, but people like Kory Teneycke say the right still needs more space. What do you think the media’s role is or was in helping the right win?
“One daily newspaper in the last federal election did not endorse the Conservative Party. The Toronto Star endorsed the New Democratic Party. [Every other daily newspaper endorsed the Conservative Party – ed.] You look at radio, it’s totally dominated by voices on the Right. The media…are dominated by the Right. On TV, they have to be careful, because it’s public airwaves and all that stuff. But with the exception of the CBC, I don’t think anybody feels that the Left dominates the [TV] discussion. I’m not whining about that.
I’m not complaining about that. That’s why I say, Fight the Right. That’s why I’m the house communist at Sun News, because I believe in taking the fight to [the Right]. I like getting up in their grill and just letting them have it. I enjoy that. My friend Bob Richardson says I’m a walking Irish bar fight, which I thought was funny. But that’s how you win. That’s how you beat them back. These kinds of gentle discussions about policy, that ain’t how it is. And it hasn’t been that way in a decade. So you’ve got to Fight the Right.”
So you don’t think in Canada they’ll be able to get their act together for 2015?
“No, [Trudeau and Mulcair] say they won’t. They’re categorical. Both of them are doing the ‘read my lips’ kind of thing. Trudeau, in fairness to him – because I like him – I understand he can’t run for leader and then say he’s going to turn off the lights. But, [Trudeau should’ve] just left the door a little open and say: ‘You know, I always listen to Mr. Chrétien, because he is the most successful Liberal of the past century (with the exception of Mackenzie King). I pay attention to Mr. Chrétien. But I’m running for this job, and that’s what I’m focused on now.’ But he gave a very unequivocal condemnation of [cooperation with the NDP] last [week]. When, in March, he said this is what we need to do. I think [the Conservatives] are going to go after him on the contradiction.
“I don’t know [Justin] as well as I used to, but I think he is very decent. He’s exactly what we need. Harper and Mulcair are angry old guys. And Justin has this positive energy. He’s a young guy, a lot like Obama in 2008. Hopefully he has the same result – bringing young people back into democracy.
But some of the folks around Justin, giving interviews about themselves and all that stuff, I don’t think it’s a very good idea because we should be hearing just from Justin. Katie Telford, she should just stick to running his campaign instead of talking about her world view.”
What’s the response been from right-wingers about your book?
“They say they hate it, but they’re all buying it. So I’ll take their 25 bucks.”