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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Could There Be an American Style Tea Party in Alberta's Future?

I subscribe to an American progressive site http://www.democracyinaction.org/. I just got a note about the Glenn Beck (Fox News ultra right-wing talk show host ) pushing the “conservative message machine” as the “chief cheerleader” for the Tea Party types. He is tapping into the resentment of working and unemployed people in the USA....and there are a lot of them that is for sure.


There are allegations that a lot of misinformation being spread by Mr. Beck including suggestions President Obama was not prepared to meet Tony Hayward the British Petroleum CEO because he was “a white CEO.” Beck apparently is also saying the American progressive movement is a “cancer” that was “designed to eat the Constitution.”

The enraging of vulnerable and fearful people in the Tea Party has been effective in mobalizing them for the November elections in the States. The “enthusiasm gap” which is the difference between positive feelings Republicans have for their candidates versus the same for Democrats is a 35 point spread in favour of the Republicans.

The conclusion is “...many progressives, liberals and Democrats are in denial, not tuned in to what is happening in Tea Party-land.” There is a concern that the money and machine behind the otherwise kooky and incoherent rage of Tea Party supporters "...is a powerful cartel of right-wing interests with very deep pockets...(and) a cabal of high-priced political operatives and lobbying groups....”

We have not seen the Tea Party effects in Alberta ... yet. What is just as interesting is what if the progressive voice in Alberta is in denial too. If so the political culture and political power can be highjacked very easily as a result of continued indifference – never mind actual denial.

Alberta has been more of less socially progressive and fiscally conservative for a long time. The shift of focus as of late by the PC and the WAP has been to be conservative on social issues, loose on economic issues and  narrow focused on environmental issues too. The progressive element is all but lost in the current Alberta political culture.  The trend lines are not promising that positive progressive change will happen automatically.

I have said before that progressives live in their heads and Alberta is no exception. The old ethos of the Lougheed PCs is long gone and actually very much forgotten. If progressive continue to be distant and indifferent to politics and to the realities – not merely the possibilities – of a hard fundamentalist shift to the right in Alberta we will have ruined the possibility of a pluralist, progressive and inclusive province. Such a waste of the potential for our place in time and for us as a people going forward.

So if you don’t want a Tea Party Alberta style in your future, you have to get informed and engaged.  I suggest you start looking for and supporting progressive candidates, or better yet, become a progressive political candidate yourself. I strongly urge you to join whatever political party you feel most at home in and start working for whatever candidates that comes closest to reflecting your values.

Many progressives in the Reboot Alberta citizen’s movement are already doing this in the forthcoming civic and school board elections. This is good but we also need to get geared up for the next provincial election too. There will be more on that in later posts-for now a word to the wise is all I am suggesting.  There is no time to waste.  Hope is not a strategy and denial is not an option.

4 comments:

  1. Alberta's got a history of populist mobilization for elite interests, Ken. Remember government-funded astrotuf campaigns and Hugh Horner's attacks on the CWB during Lougheed's reign? Or in a more general sense, Preston Manning?

    I would think that we haven't had the extreme rhetoric of the Tea Party here largely due to the fact that such rhetoric has not proved necessary to secure overwhelming majorities. The strategy thus far has been to bang the tired drum of western alienation, whine about Kyoto/NEP/gun registry/CWB, and blame all evils on Ottawa.
    The Wildrose Alliance might change this, however; already we see some ridiculous rhetoric being applied (calling the PCs liberals, for example).

    There remains substantial progressive sentiment among Albertans, but what seems to be lacking is the organizational infrastructure that could turn this into political force.

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  2. I would be willing to wager that a great many Albertans would participate in a movement like the Tea Party if political apathy -- at least in regard to provincial politics -- wasn't so widespread in Alberta.

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  3. Hey joelaf - I have compared the WAP to US Republicans in the past. I also note the Economist in a recent article said they were akin to a northern Tea Party.

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  4. Well, I'm doing my best to rabble-rouse

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/opinion/letters/Stelmach+cast+stones+Fadden/3269707/story.html

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