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At the Winnipeg Liberal convention, Justin Trudeau said “We have grown into a confident, mature, open movement.” And as CBC’s Aaron Wherry pointed out, the word “movement” appeared seven times in that speech and in several recent Liberal emails.
Unsatisfied with merely co-opting movements, the Liberals are now co-opting the word “movement.” And I hope they fail because it’s important for people to remember the difference between parties and movements.
A movement demands specific policies, and which party supports those policies is irrelevant. A political party wants power, and which policies get them that power changes based on what people want. A political party calling itself a movement is like a sailboat calling itself the wind.
The Liberal Party is more than a party. But it’s not a movement, it’s a brand. It’s not asking for loyalty to a set of principles, it’s asking for loyalty to a carefully cultivated image.
And once you buy into that, and float up into the glossy abstractions of marketing, it probably doesn’t seem silly to refer to yourself as a movement. But down here on Earth, it is silly. As silly as Miracle Whip trying to convince you it’s rebellious.
Movements, as opposed to parties, are citizenship in its purest form. They require us to demand change by raising our own voice, putting our own bodies in the streets and sometimes even breaking the law. It’s the difference between going downhill skiing and watching people downhill skiing in a Mountain Dew commercial.
And if we forget that difference, the only movement we’re making is backwards.
This video originally appeared on The Toronto Star.