Is Political Realignment Under Way?

Are we seeing a major shift in political allegiances?  Of all the things wrought by the sudden rise of woke culture, the COVID pandemic and its attendant lockdowns, economic debacles, etc., will the greatest turn out to be a realignment of politics?

In the U.S., the New Deal cemented blue-collar loyalty to the Democratic Party.  The movement for civil rights for black Americans and its support from non-southern Democrats brought large majorities of blacks on board.  Of course, Lyndon Johnson’s embrace of black civil rights alienated many southern whites and Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” capitalized on same, much as Johnson had predicted.  Still, in theory and, somewhat in fact, the Democratic Party has, for decades, been the party of the working class, particularly those belonging to unions, blacks and liberals.  That coalition, plus a narrow but significant majority of women, has been its recipe for victory.

Will Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, wokeness generally, the response to COVID and media mendacity combine to finally push blue collar workers (mostly) and blacks (possibly) off the Democratic ship?  Will Republicans be able to attract those groups in sufficient numbers to gain electoral hegemony?  Or will some other party or movement develop that better represents their interests?  The next three years will tell us a lot.

Those questions apply to politics both inside and outside the U.S.  The tectonic plates of electoral politics are shifting in similar directions in several countries, so, to see one is, to an extent, to see all.  Most recently, the massive Canadian truck convoy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to it provide a case in point.

The reason for the truckers’ protest is well known - the combination of vaccination mandates and vaccination passports imposed by the Trudeau government.  As the countless signs along the convoy’s route attest, the issue is whether Canadians have the freedom to choose their own healthcare or not.  Trudeau thinks they don’t and is happy to smear anyone who disagrees.

Whatever your position on that issue, it’s one that should be addressed publicly.  Who makes healthcare choices - the individual or the government - isn’t exactly a fringe question.  Perhaps Trudeau has a good answer to the points raised by the truckers and supported by some 28% of Canadians, but he’s pointedly refused to articulate it.  On the contrary, he’s said quite plainly that he has no intention of meeting with the truckers, hearing their complaints or responding to them in any way.  He’s left the Prime Minister’s residence and gone into hiding.  That’s not exactly a Profile in Courage, more like a middle-finger salute.

His terse statement speaks volumes.

"I have also chosen to not go anywhere near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric, violence toward fellow citizens. And a disrespect, not just of science, but of the frontline health workers and quite frankly, the 90% of truckers who have been doing the right thing to keep Canadians safe, to put food on our tables.

Read that again.  First, the protest, that’s involved tens of thousands of Canadians over a period of many days, has been astonishing not only for its peaceful nature, but its downright ebullience.  Not just the truckers, but people all along their route, waved Canadian flags, danced, sang, hugged and generally behaved as if they’ve never had a better time.  If there’s been any sort of “violence,” it’s a closely-guarded secret.  Hateful rhetoric?  Needless to say, Trudeau didn’t offer any specifics, but even if he had, in these fraught political times, it’d be hard to imagine a gathering of tens of thousands of people without someone saying something off-color.  So what?

Most tellingly, Trudeau ignored the point.  As all know, the issue is personal freedom, not the science on vaccinations, the vital services provided by doctors and nurses, how many truckers have gotten jabbed, or any of the other strawmen Trudeau set up.  He’s pretending that the issue is something other than what it so clearly is, that, if someone says an intemperate word or waves a “wrong” flag, the entire protest becomes a sham and the issue of personal freedom vanishes. 

All that is clear enough and has been remarked on by others.  But let’s not overlook what may be the more important point - truckers.  That middle finger Trudeau so casually deploys is aimed, not at his friends at the yacht club, but at trucker drivers, perhaps the most iconic of all blue-collar workers.  He draws a bright line between toney elites (him) and the Great Unwashed (them), the latter being of so little worth that they don’t even deserve an acknowledgement of their grievances, much less a response to them.  It’s precisely the stance struck by monarchs throughout history. 

This is a signal moment.  The mental snapshot of blue-collar Canadians demanding the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions and Trudeau, peeking out of his hiding place to raise his middle finger in utterly feigned indignation won’t, I suspect, be forgotten soon.  Those protesters will, at some point, march to the polls with other Canadians and cast ballots.  Will they find someone for whom to vote who demonstrates at least minimal respect for them and their entirely just complaints?  Perhaps the populist People’s Party of Canada will benefit.  Will that be part of a larger realignment in Canadian politics? 

I chose the truckers’ convoy because it’s the most obvious recent example of the open disdain progressives, both in and out of government, have, not just for our freedoms, but for us personally.  Trudeau’s made that perfectly clear.  But, for years now, the same has been going on in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Will one result be a great political realignment?

I’ll say more about that next time.

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