rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

All the political parties can agree: It's the hardworkingmiddleclass, stupid!

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image: wikimedia commons

Has there ever been a moment when the political class was so united? When, from every point on the ideological spectrum, they join in pledging allegiance? And to what? Or perhaps whom? To nothing less than the hard-working middle class, whoever they or it might be. Is Sophie concerned about Justin's swooning over this apparently irresistible body?

Needless to say, this consensus is not remotely fair. Who, after all, is looking after the interests of the filthy rich, the 1%? Tough break, plutocrats. You're on your own. Nobody cares a fig for anything but the hard-working thingamajigs, and even though the benefits they actually receive are negligible, they must be chuffed that politicians talk about nothing else.

Look at Ontario's two by-elections the other day. The hardworking, etc., were the big winners. Heck, they couldn't lose. Hardworkingmiddleclass-loving Conservatives won in Thornhill and the harworkingmiddleclass-loving NDP won in Niagara Falls.

Of course there were losers, and not just the reigning Liberals, who were splendidly crushed in both seats. Naturally Tim Hudak, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and by his own insistence a reliably rabid ultra-conservative, let another one slip away. It's an axiom: You can't really have any kind of election in Ontario without "Tea Party Tim" blowing it. And despite the assertion that the NDP emerged the big winner, its margin in Niagara Falls indicates that it's a tad early to start decorating those cabinet ministers' offices yet.

Just the day before the by-election, polls were showing NDP candidate Wayne Gates ahead of the Conservative candidate 48-33, a fine old landslide. Twenty-four hours later, Mr. Gates squeaked into Queen's Park by about 1,000 votes, 39 per cent to 37 per cent. The NDP might want to review its electoral strategy.

Where did those promised votes go? Mr. Hudak's people accused the NDP of being run by labour "elites" or "bosses." Specifically, Wayne Gates was accused of being a Trojan horse for former CAW boss Buzz Hargrove and the extremely dangerous world communist conspiracy. These harebrained smears seemed pathetically laughable, a sure reflection of both Tory desperation and ineptitude. But something transformed a landslide into a squeaker virtually overnight. Was it Marx? Buzz? Maybe Mr. Hudak will want to re-examine his latest decision against union-bashing after all.

As for the NDP's Andrea Horwath, it's true that she's doing swimmingly, especially since -- or maybe because -- it's not immediately evident what she stands for or what she would do as premier, other than govern on behalf of you-know-who. Maybe the sweet smell of success trumps the reasons you want to win.

Ms. Horwath seems to have lots of public support, but I wonder how motivated her troops can be by a social democratic party that remains reprehensibly mute about the minimum wage for an eternity and finally endorses the government's own new minimum that will keep workers in poverty. And where would a Horwath government get enough dough to build a better, more just Ontario? Or is that not her goal? Who knows? Has Andrea Horwath become the NDP's Justin Trudeau, all personality, no substance?

The federal NDP, too, seems to be emphasising rather more modest aims than the old-fashioned ideals of social justice and equality. Once the party wanted to control Canada's banks. Now it's making a big foofaraw about bankers charging ATM fees to non-customers. I can dig that. Every once in a while I'm forced to use a bank machine not belonging to my bank and I have to pay a fee of between $1.50 and $2 for the privilege. The actual transaction probably costs no more than a few pennies, so someone is making usurious profits. I calculate that the NDP's proposed cap on these exorbitant fees would save me a dollar or a dollar fifty a crack, maybe $35 a year.

I've spent a bunch of my life marching for great causes. I've marched against nuclear weapons. I've marched for human rights and against war. I marched with Occupy and marched for labour rights and marched against violence against women. And now -- do we march for $35 a year?

I'm sure your average hardworkingmiddleclass family will be glad to get a few bucks more this way. Who wouldn't? But as a step in reversing unprecedented inequality and easing the relentless squeeze on the shaken middle class, it leaves something to be desired. As for the poor, that, I suppose, must be a cause for another day.

Is this what progressivism means in 2014? Could this be why the 1% isn't exactly panicking that everyone's ignoring them?

This article originally appeared in The Globe and Mail.

Image: wikimedia commons

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.