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Will the NDP have to become more like the US Democratic Party/New Labour to form the government?

Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

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Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

My answer is...I hope not, though it may be the "easier" path (i.e. catering to the existing ideas of voters rather than seeking to build support for a more progressive worldview and thus trying to move to the "center").  

I wanted to start a thread here, separate from the horserace threads.

In a previous thread I wrote the following (though I made a few minor changes):

Quote:
There are essentially two strategies in terms of electoral appeal for the NDP to take in order to form the government (this isn't to say both can't be done).  One is to do better among the traditional manual working class and trade union base, expand electoral appeals that are really working class as well (clerical/office workers etc.) and reach out to the 40% that aren't voting (not all are "left" but there are certainly many who would be open to a social democratic message)

 

The other is to make more "classless" appeals, hope to retain the traditional base because the NDP is better than the other parties, and appeal more to affluent professionals and a fraction of the capitalist class and "enlightened" Bay St. types.  This is essentially the Obama coalition, which includes the social democratic universe but also the types of upscale demographics that have never voted NDP and now make up the core of what remains of the LPC base.   These are the demographics New Labour (who modeled themselves after Clinton) cultivated as well.


autoworker
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Joined: Dec 21 2008

The Democrats have a much larger tent. The NDP would need to merge with the Liberals, in order to be comparable. I don't think the NDP could even form a minority without that prerequisite. Should that happen, the resulting 'Liberal-Democrats' (or what have you) would become a centrist party, with the former NDP's Socialist faction fragmenting into it's own party. The Greens may or may not stand to benefit (pun intended).


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

I think you're ignoring a key part of the Liberal coalition that might be more truly social democratic in philosophy, but has traditionally voted Liberal.

In and around the Greater Toronto Area, there are a ton of ethnic minorities and immigrant communities that share working class values. But Liberals reached out to them 20-30 years ago, and they've maintained them easily as new immigrants arrive. People who directly benefit from policies including a federal minimum wage, child care, senior and home care, affordable education, and so on.

I've met tons of people who fit this description in my lifetime. They hate Steven Harper. They feel disenchanted with the Liberals. But when you ask them if they'd ever vote NDP, they can't tell you why. (Sometimes it's strategic, sometimes it's a vague feeling of mistrust, sometimes they just don't know.)

I suppose some of our appeal to them might be "classless". That is, they prefer to think of themselves as middle class, and hate to think of themselves as mere "workers". They might technically be professional in the sense that they work in an office, or provide some other kind of service. So they might share their *interests* with working people, but they share their *identity* with professionals. (And yes, that might make them vulnerable to anti-Union appeals.) They want to think of themselves as ready to rise if only they got a fair shot, or believe they're doing okay but they sometimes worry about their family. So how we appeal to them does matter. (See Olivia Chow's slow but steady climb in Trinity-Spadina.)

I think we need to do both to win. But obviously, the more we can rally our base and appeal to new voters (young people in particular), the less we'll need the hard Liberals, and the more we can rely on soft-Liberals who (IMO) are also soft-socialists. (They just might not call themselves that.)


clambake
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Joined: Apr 21 2011

How about pulling a bizarro Liberal strategy? Campaign from the centre, govern from the far left? :)


Lord Palmerston
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socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:
In and around the Greater Toronto Area, there are a ton of ethnic minorities and immigrant communities that share working class values. But Liberals reached out to them 20-30 years ago, and they've maintained them easily as new immigrants arrive.

"Easily"???? Have you looked at the results in the GTA in the last federal election?

Otherwise, your post raises some good points about the difficulty about getting around the "classless" politics (though this is hardly by any means unique to immigrant and "ethnic" communities).


NDPP
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I would say that the process of 'learning from the best' is already well underway...

 


flight from kamakura
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clambake wrote:

How about pulling a bizarro Liberal strategy? Campaign from the centre, govern from the far left? :)

+1


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

Of course, but the NDP isn't quite there yet and is still more of a social democratic formation qualitatively different than a more "liberal" bourgeois formation like the US Democrats.  For it to become "just another capitalist party" it needs the support of the corporate elite (and only one candidate so far has received such support.)  


MegB
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Joined: Nov 28 2001

US Democrats are closer to our LPC than the NDP, and I would hate to see the NDP go that centrist.  I think any NDP alignment with the Libs is a mistake.  There's a reason Canada doesn't have the USian two-party system. 


Lord Palmerston
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Rebecca and others, it's not necessarily a merger or alliance that I'm referring to.  I think a lot of NDP supporters are hoping the party crushes the Liberals even further and picks up most of their votes as well as that of disaffected Tory voters who will likely be sick of the Harper regime in 2015.  But in order to do so, the quick fix strategic solution requires moving more to the center to appeal to Liberals and to a lesser extent very soft Tories, and assuming those who voted NDP will stick with the party.  

(There is of course trying to build the left further, persuade people ideologically, bring out the disaffected and marginalized, etc. but that requires mobilization, education, etc. not just "marketing."  It's easier to "go where the votes are" so to speak.)


adma
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socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:
In and around the Greater Toronto Area, there are a ton of ethnic minorities and immigrant communities that share working class values. But Liberals reached out to them 20-30 years ago, and they've maintained them easily as new immigrants arrive. People who directly benefit from policies including a federal minimum wage, child care, senior and home care, affordable education, and so on.

Well...maintained until relatively recently.  But don't forget cases like Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Scarborough-Rouge River...


wage zombie
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Joined: Dec 8 2004

flight from kamakura wrote:

clambake wrote:

How about pulling a bizarro Liberal strategy? Campaign from the centre, govern from the far left? :)

+1

That doesn't seem to ever happen.  I doubt there has ever been a govt in Canada, national or provincial, that governed more left than they ran.

So it doesn't seem like much of a strategy to me.


JKR
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Joined: Jan 15 2005

As long as the Conservativs keep winning phony FPTP election victories, the NDP will continue to be dragged to the centre and if the NDP or Liberals can't stop this process, the NDP and Liberals will eventually have to merge.

The 2015 election will be a watershed. In the event the Conservatives win yet another phony FPTP majority, joint NDP-Liberal nominations and an outright NDP-Liberal merger will become the go-to solution as the strong majority voting against the Conservatives will no longer have the patience for more phony FPTP Conservative government.

Replacing FPTP with PR / Fair Voting is best way to prevent the NDP from being dragged to the centre.

Replacing FPTP with Fair Voting / PR is also the best way to give social democrats a voice in our political process.


Chris Borst
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Joined: Jun 6 2001

Well, Palmerston, I'm not inclined to think so, but my main thought is "If they do have to, then it really doesn't matter if they form the government."

This is the perpetual problem with the "but don't you want to win?" argument. Of course I want to win. And the point that that requires more votes than the NDP presently has is perfectly obvious and clear. But if the NDP becomes just another neoliberal party, then I still lose, whatever the electoral consequences. The goal is not to form "an NDP government". The goal is to form an (at minimum) anti-neoliberal government. The NDP is presently the best, if slight, hope to achieve that goal. If the NDP gives up (or shluffs even more) that goal, then, well, you know, it's never really taken any special effort on my part to get a government elected that I oppose ...

So, I think the more pressing question is "what strategy will build a winning coalition for anti-neoliberal government in Canada?"


iancosh
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Joined: May 3 2011

But this is why PR is so important. I think there is a lot more potential to maintain and promote social democratic principles in a multi-party system with (mixed-member) PR. A two-party system would, I think, be a disaster for Canada. The question is not only "should the NDP become like the US Democrats", it's also, "should the NDP seek a two-party system" and I think the answer is definitely "no."


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

In answer to the thread title: No, it doesn't have to.  But it will.  I have never felt so hopeless about the direction of the federal NDP as I do now, knowing how the leadership race is most likely to turn out at this point.  What a pity and a shame.


Michelle
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Oh, and I don't agree that the Democrats are comparable to our Liberal Party.  I think the US Democrats are more on par with our Conservatives, actually.  The US Democrats who run the party oppose single-payer health care, oppose gay marriage, give bailout money to their corporate friends with no strings attached, and do as much religious pandering for votes as the Cons do here.

The US Democrats occupy the same space on the political spectrum as the Harpocons here.  US Democrats can only dream of their party being as progressive as the Liberal Party in Canada.  And that's setting the bar pretty damn low - I'm sure not complimenting the Liberal Party here.


iancosh
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JKR wrote:

As long as the Conservativs keep winning phony FPTP election victories, the NDP will continue to be dragged to the centre and if the NDP or Liberals can't stop this process, the NDP and Liberals will eventually have to merge.

The 2015 election will be a watershed. In the event the Conservatives win yet another phony FPTP majority, joint NDP-Liberal nominations and an outright NDP-Liberal merger will become the go-to solution as the strong majority voting against the Conservatives will no longer have the patience for more phony FPTP Conservative government.

Replacing FPTP with PR / Fair Voting is best way to prevent the NDP from being dragged to the centre.

Replacing FPTP with Fair Voting / PR is also the best way to give social democrats a voice in our political process.

 

+1

Sorry, I didn't see your added comments until after I posted mine! I agree completely.

Can I just add this?

Replacing FPTP with Fair Voting / PR also happens to be the best thing to do for all Canadians, even if they're not social democrats. (But let's remind them who brought it to them; just as unions won us the weekend...)


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Michelle wrote:
In answer to the thread title: No, it doesn't have to.  But it will.  I have never felt so hopeless about the direction of the federal NDP as I do now, knowing how the leadership race is most likely to turn out at this point.  What a pity and a shame.

I don't know about that, Michelle. I think Niki Ashton will keep the party close to its leftist roots...

Of course, the NDP has a chance to permanently shift the political discourse in this country. The proof has never been stronger and popular will has never been more against neoliberal politics. The NDP have the opportunity to show true leadership and vision, promoting an alternative to every aspect of the capitalist policies which are destroying the social fabric. They can say that we and all Canadians believe in a society where everyone is clothed, fed, housed, cared for and valued; they can recognize our colonialist and imperialist past and make unprecedented strides to heal those wounds and create a true, just, equal and representative democracy which protects and strengthens its most marginalized and vulnerable. They can send a message to Bay Street that people matter before profits, that social justice and community co-operation are what truly mobilize, and have always mobilized an electorate. They can prove what Tariq Ali once told me after UK Labour had lost one of the safest seats in Britain: if you base your politics on a lie, you will get found out. Instead, they can prove the truism that courage is always, always rewarded. The opportunities presented to the NDP over the next four years are truly breathless.

I ask myself who among the candidates has the bravery to make this happen. And the answer does not inspire me.


Lord Palmerston
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Michelle wrote:

Oh, and I don't agree that the Democrats are comparable to our Liberal Party.  I think the US Democrats are more on par with our Conservatives, actually.  The US Democrats who run the party oppose single-payer health care, oppose gay marriage, give bailout money to their corporate friends with no strings attached, and do as much religious pandering for votes as the Cons do here.

The US Democrats occupy the same space on the political spectrum as the Harpocons here.  US Democrats can only dream of their party being as progressive as the Liberal Party in Canada.  And that's setting the bar pretty damn low - I'm sure not complimenting the Liberal Party here.

I always find it kind of amusing when NDPers think Obama is "one of us" (as if the Democrats are part of the Socialist International!) and then go a tirade about the LPC being "right-wing."  For instance I'm FB friends with Sid Ryan and he posted something recently about how the US corporate media was "biased" against Obama, and I said something that they're no more biased against Obama than the media here is against Bob Rae (who is getting very favorable coverage these days, the media certainly wants us to think the LPC is the opposition).   He basically responded by saying Obama and Rae can't be compared because Rae is a right-wing sellout! (and Obama isn't???)

I'd say the LPC and Democrats are comparable in that they both represent the more "liberal" wings of the capitalist class. 


socialdemocrati...
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Lord Palmerston wrote:

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:
In and around the Greater Toronto Area, there are a ton of ethnic minorities and immigrant communities that share working class values. But Liberals reached out to them 20-30 years ago, and they've maintained them easily as new immigrants arrive.

"Easily"???? Have you looked at the results in the GTA in the last federal election?

Otherwise, your post raises some good points about the difficulty about getting around the "classless" politics (though this is hardly by any means unique to immigrant and "ethnic" communities).

Well, easily, until recently :) These groups should be our next pickup. But there's just as much appeal in sticking with the Liberal party that was so good to them / their parents. And then there's the lure of false consciousness, shopped around by the Conservatives.


Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

I think the NDP's job is to shift Canadian politics anywhere toward the political centre. We are situated immediately nextdoor to a country that is the last bastion of far right political conservatism in the world, and this will be a tough slog considering how big money has influenced past election results in North America in general.

Most all of the English speaking countries still use dated FPTP electoral systems that favour exactly two big money parties, or one private property party pretending to be two. We need a united front on the left, and I think that scrapping FPTP and the very undemocratic senate would be a good place to start. This robocalls scandal proves that they are only really interested in appealing to/coercing  voters in swing ridings.

I still think the majority of Canadians want to support a Laurentian consensus of sorts as opposed to a Western agenda headed by the likes of Stephen Harper. Harper is a pretender, a divisive and fake leader. I think Canadians will vote strategically for the NDP next election. After that, for the first time in history Canadians will vote with their hearts and minds instead of out of fear of electing another Brian Mulroney or Steve Harper. And it will be a lot easier for a united front on the left to put in check the already unified right in Canada.


socialdemocrati...
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Obama is the best viable option that America's got. But I'm glad I live here. In that country, Obama could never get away with single payer health care. Here, Harper could never get away with eliminating it.


Lord Palmerston
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socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

Obama is the best viable option that America's got. But I'm glad I live here. In that country, Obama could never get away with single payer health care. Here, Harper could never get away with eliminating it.

But proroguing Parliament and rigging elections?  Yes. 


wage zombie
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Michelle wrote:

Oh, and I don't agree that the Democrats are comparable to our Liberal Party.  I think the US Democrats are more on par with our Conservatives, actually.  The US Democrats who run the party oppose single-payer health care, oppose gay marriage, give bailout money to their corporate friends with no strings attached, and do as much religious pandering for votes as the Cons do here.

The US Democrats occupy the same space on the political spectrum as the Harpocons here.  US Democrats can only dream of their party being as progressive as the Liberal Party in Canada.  And that's setting the bar pretty damn low - I'm sure not complimenting the Liberal Party here.

Lord Palmerston wrote:

I always find it kind of amusing when NDPers think Obama is "one of us" (as if the Democrats are part of the Socialist International!) and then go a tirade about the LPC being "right-wing."  For instance I'm FB friends with Sid Ryan and he posted something recently about how the US corporate media was "biased" against Obama, and I said something that they're no more biased against Obama than the media here is against Bob Rae (who is getting very favorable coverage these days, the media certainly wants us to think the LPC is the opposition).   He basically responded by saying Obama and Rae can't be compared because Rae is a right-wing sellout! (and Obama isn't???)

I'd say the LPC and Democrats are comparable in that they both represent the more "liberal" wings of the capitalist class. 

The difference is the Canadian MSM is much less owned by the right wing establishment.  And that's a big difference.  A good chunk of the media in the USA is an extension of the right wing machine, and that's just not the case here.  No media figures these days are calling Bob Rae a radical Marxist.  No one would think of saying that Bob Rae wants death panels.

I'd put Obama solidly in the leftest 20% of currently elected USian politicians.  Sad but true.


socialdemocrati...
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It's a few things that makes Canada better off than America. We have a three party system here, which makes for just a little more choice. We also have far more stringent campaign finance rules, which prevents a complete corporate takeover of Parliament the way they've taken over congress and the supreme court. And our media is certainly better. I wonder if that's because our education system is more egalitarian and so the audience expects more, or if that's because the CBC actually has a moderating effect on the other corporate networks. The last thing is we have a genuinely different political culture. Our health care system validates the idea that government can do good things. Sometimes I think it's more than a symptom of our leftward political culture, and it's actually a cause that keeps us believing in the mixed economy.


Ippurigakko
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Joined: May 30 2011

I see Green Party of USA is very closer to NDP than Green Party of Canada, they very similar platform.


josh
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Joined: Aug 5 2002
Michelle wrote:

Oh, and I don't agree that the Democrats are comparable to our Liberal Party.  I think the US Democrats are more on par with our Conservatives, actually.  The US Democrats who run the party oppose single-payer health care, oppose gay marriage, give bailout money to their corporate friends with no strings attached, and do as much religious pandering for votes as the Cons do here.

The US Democrats occupy the same space on the political spectrum as the Harpocons here.  US Democrats can only dream of their party being as progressive as the Liberal Party in Canada.  And that's setting the bar pretty damn low - I'm sure not complimenting the Liberal Party here.

Not entirely fair. I would say somewhere between the Conservatives and the Liberals.

josh
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Joined: Aug 5 2002
I would drop the "have" and the "to form the government" in the sentence, and you'd have the more pertinent question.

KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

I dont like the frameing of the title- the kind of truncated or simplistic questions it tends to lead to.

The more or less classless one is interesting. But thats a different one. Many of us see a continued weakening of the old class basis of social democratic parties, and the NDP in particular, as inevitable and not necessarily a bad thing. Loooked overall, maybe/probably for the best.

Plus, it needs to said that social democratic parties- and revolutionary socialist ones as well- have always been broad tents when it comes to class and the mass base. It is questionable whether they have changed any more than the social structure has.

At any rate, become 'more classless' is not necessarily the same thing as becoming more waterd down social democracy in goals.


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