Have you noticed a reversal in North American politics?
Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was the darling of the right wing Republicans in the U.S. and the Conservatives in Canada. He was famous for his optimism and for making Americans feel good about themselves. That could be why they made him President for eight years.
It drove his lefty opponents crazy. They howled that a heartless and heavy-handed US foreign policy was immoral and destructive. A nascent and still humourless environmental movement was sounding the alarm that rampant industrial expansion was fouling our nest and jeopardizing our future. It didn’t hinder the Reaganites. They were feeling good.
After he left office, Reagan was asked how he wanted to be remembered, and he said, “Whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.”
It’s striking how different Reagan’s attitude was from the right wingers of today. What happened to that optimism? When did the right wing in North America get so scared and angry?
They are freaked out about terrorism; they want their guns near at hand at all times and they want to build walls, both figuratively and literally, to keep the bad guys away. They even call them “bad guys”. It’s bordering on infantile.
In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked off the 2011 election campaign by saying that “a sea of troubles is lapping at our shores”, and he repeated this relentlessly throughout the campaign, citing a “fragile economic recovery” at home and “chaos”, “disaster”, and a smattering of “very serious challenges” abroad. He wanted to scare Canadians into electing a majority Conservative government, and it worked.
But that was then. Continue Reading