Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Shania Twain Had a Point, Or: The Only Way to Beat a Right-Wing Populist

When I heard that Shania Twain got in hot water for saying that she would have liked to vote for Donald Trump if she could, my knee-jerk reaction was to think she was silly and ignorant. But I had to stop and ask myself, what is Trump's appeal? He clearly has some, despite all the awful things he's said and done.

Twain said it herself: "He seemed honest."[1] He isn't of course, but he is a straight talker. Whatever comes into his head is quick to fly out his mouth. No number of handlers can keep him "on message" for long.

Contrast this to what we have come to expect from our politicians. Spin. Talking points. Questions going unanswered. Boring blather. Broken promises (Justin Trudeau being just the latest, most egregious example).

"If I were voting," said Twain, "I just don't want bullshit."[2] Bullshit is exactly what we get from our politicians. We've had decades upon decades of bullshit. Did they think nobody would get tired of it? Fact is, our politicians are the ones responsible for the upswing of right-wing populism around the globe. They built this edifice of Neo-Fascism, brick by bullshit-infused brick.

Twain should be neither vilified nor mocked. She should be lauded for her valuable insight. She told us exactly What Happened, probably better than Hillary Clinton's self-serving, blame-everybody-and-everything-but-Hillary-Clinton book ever can. Let's hail Twain as the prophet of the twenty-first century: voters don't want bullshit, and that's why Trump is the President of the United States.

In the long run, only one thing can beat a right-wing populist, and that's a left-wing populist. Bernie Sanders could have beaten Donald Trump; polls told us that well before the election.[3] Among other things, Clinton wasn't progressive enough to present voters with an exciting alternative to Trump. Sadly, while the Republican Party failed to prevent the nomination of their populist, the Democratic Party succeeded, and Americans are paying the price.

And as long as left-wing parties continue to block their most interesting, populist candidates, the rise of the right will continue. Perhaps that's what we're seeing in New Brunswick, with the NB Green Party's unprecedented ousting of Fredericton North candidate Chris Smissaert. No reason was given.[4]

So it seems our elites have not learned. They continue to want someone controllable, predictable, presentable and safe. Someone who will stay on message. Someone who will bore the living shit out of the voters. This fact puts us in continuing danger of being governed by somebody like Doug Ford.[5]

What can we ordinary people do? My best advice is, stop holding your nose and voting for the safe option. That's not a winning formula. Vote for the left-wing populist. If he gets blocked from running, vote for him when he runs as an independent. Yes, that may split the vote, but what difference does it make if the right-wing populist wins because of vote-splitting or because of the lack of an appealing candidate on the left? The result is the same, so we may as well bet on the only real chance we have.

Fear of vote-splitting is how our overlords keep us under control. It's the reason Justin Trudeau didn't implement Proportional Representation. He doesn't want you to vote for the left-wing populist, he wants you to vote for him, and he's perfectly happy to undermine democracy, trash the environment, and betray Indigenous people and everyone else in order to maximize his chances of winning an unjust majority.

If you rail against the "ignorance" of those who find Trump appealing, you're wasting your breath. Sure, in a perfect world, everyone eligible to vote would make an effort to research the candidates and their policies. Since this is the real world, that's never going to happen.

Another thing that's never going to happen is whipping all left-wing voters into voting for the safe, dull candidate the king-makers (or the queen-makers) have chosen. The Americans have that whipping and bullying routine down to a science. Third parties were scarcely a factor in their last election, and the results were as we have seen. In Canada, the situation is different. This hasn't been a two-party system in a long time, and it will never be again.

We need to thwart the king-makers, and choose the left-wing populist. Business as usual can only doom us.


1. "Shania Twain Apologizes After Saying She Would've Voted for Trump", CBC News. http://people.com/country/shania-twain-voted-donald-trump-the-guardian-interview/. Back

2. Ibid. Back

3. "Bernie Sanders says he consistently beats Donald Trump by bigger margins than Hillary Clinton does", Politifact. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/mar/08/bernie-s/bernie-sanders-says-he-consistently-beats-donald-t/. Back

4. "N.B Green Party bans candidate from running in provincial election", KHJ Radio. http://www.iheartradio.ca/khj/khj-news/n-b-green-party-bans-candidate-from-running-in-provincial-election-1.3751232. Back

5. "With nine weeks to go, the Ontario election is Doug Ford's to lose", CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/grenier-ontario-poll-tracker-1.4603291. Back

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