DON’T FALL FOR POP­ULISM’S FALSE PROM­ISES

StarMetro Edmonton - - BIG OPINIONS - Bridgitte Pel­lerin

It never ceases to amaze me how much smarter and per­cep­tive politi­cians are be­fore and af­ter their time in of­fice but never dur­ing. Case in point: Stephen Harper’s new book, which looks in­ter­est­ing. But I have to quib­ble.

I don’t be­lieve the fu­ture be­longs to pop­ulism. Harper is right about his main ob­ser­va­tion, that: “A large pro­por­tion of Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing many Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tives, voted for Trump be­cause they are re­ally not do­ing very well. In short, the world of glob­al­iza­tion is not work­ing for many of our own peo­ple.”

True as far as that goes. Whether Trump sup­port­ers could tell you ex­actly what may have hap­pened to the stan­dards of liv­ing of ev­ery­one in­clud­ing them­selves if North Amer­ica had re­mained at 1970s lev­els of tech­no­log­i­cal lack of ad­vance­ment, while the rest of the world adopted just-in-time de­liv­ery, au­to­ma­tion, and all the other fun stuff we can no longer live with­out would be an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion to ask them, but for­tu­nately for them no­body ever does that.

Harper says we have a choice between try­ing to con­vince Trumpians “that they mis­un­der­stand their own lives, or we can try to un­der­stand what they are say­ing. Then we can de­cide what to do about it.”

I don’t think they mis­un­der­stand their lives. But they mis­un­der­stand a whole bunch of nearly ev­ery­thing else. I’ve lis­tened to them a lot, and as far as I can tell what the folks who vote for what­ever pop­ulist ya­hoo is on of­fer have to say is, “we’re sick and tired of not be­ing re­spected and of not hav­ing a big enough say over the rules we have to live un­der, move over elites we don’t need you,” which is some­times trans­lated as “lock her up.”

Ba­si­cally they’re have-nots and left-be­hinds who don’t want to be that way, but aren’t too sure how to get out of their un­for­tu­nate bas­ket.

I don’t know quite how to ex­plain this with­out sound­ing con­de­scend­ing to the havenots, but of course it’s the peo­ple with op­tions, the “elites,” who make rules for ev­ery­one. How many high school dropouts who had three kids be­fore they reached 25 get to be se­nior as­sis­tant deputy min­is­ter of any­thing worth men­tion­ing, you fig­ure?

I’m not say­ing the sys­tem doesn’t need fix­ing. But elect­ing the near­est bull be­cause you’re sick of the ex­ist­ing china shop will not re­sult in nicer dishes in your cup­board. It will only re­sult in a big old mess to clean up ... by the have-nots.

I DON’T BE­LIEVE THE FU­TURE BE­LONGS TO POP­ULISM.

JOSE LUIS MA­G­ANA/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Stephen Harper is right about his ob­ser­va­tion that many Amer­i­cans voted for Trump be­cause “they are re­ally not do­ing very well,” writes Brigitte Pel­lerin.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.